Area Firefighters Return Home from Florida
Posted July 13, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
TAR HEEL — They helped fight one of the worst brushfires our country has ever seen. People in Florida call them heroes. Tar Heel firefighters who battled the flames say it was an incredible experience, one they hope we'll never have to go through in North Carolina.
Bud Warren and Don Ramsey spent ten days on Florida's Palm Coast trying to protect homes and businesses from the huge brushfires, fires that moved with incredible quickness.
"We basically saw an acre of land go up within thirty seconds," recalled firefighter Don Ramsey. "That's the worst thing I've ever seen."
Those fires torched dozens of homes before firefighters turned back the flames.
"I've actually talked to some of the people that got their houses burned," Ramsey said. "They said the only thing you guys could have done is tried, and we appreciate it."
"If they weren't waving to us they were giving us the thumbs up," firefighter Bud Warren explained. "Every time we turned around, they were giving us something, whether it be food, water or gatorade. We got some stuffed animals.
When the firefighters left for Florida, they worried they might be leaving their home turf unprotected.
"I was afraid of what was going to happen when we were gone," Warren admitted. "I didn't know exactly how dry it was down there, how bad the conditions were. But it could have happened here. And it almost could have been just as bad.
Warren even gave up his vacation time to fight the fires. Both he and Ramsey say given the opportunity to help out again, they'd do it in a heartbeat. North Carolina was one of 41 states to send firefighters to Florida.