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Locals return home after helping with Camp Fire relief

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-27 21:44:07-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The deadly Camp Fire has left 58 people dead with many more still missing. First responders from across the state, including Kern County, traveled to Northern California to help with relief in various ways and many of them have now returned home.

The Bakersfield Fire Department said they sent about 20 firefighters. Battalion Chief Mike Walkley said crews worked to protect structures and lay hose.

The Kern County Fire Department said they sent firefighters the day the Camp Fire started, sending 29 total.

Kern County Search And Rescue, which is mostly volunteer-based, sent three groups of people for three rotations through a two-week period. They were tasked with going through charred homes, looking for people who didn't make it out alive.

"It didn't really hit me initially and then you look next door and then you look further and then you look further and everything is gone. You see maybe a couple chimneys standing, but it's all gone. There's not a structure in sight that's intact," said Sergeant Zack Bittle, who is with Search and Rescue.

Kern County Animal Services also sent three people to help care for animals. Director Nick Cullen was one of those people and said they were in one of the four animal shelters in Chico and that shelter alone had about 500 animals.

As of Tuesday, most of these crews returned home. KCSO said they still have one coroner helping and KCFD said they have three firefighters tasked with specialty assignments.