Seeing regular folks become heroes

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On June 27, normal life stopped for all of us in Los Alamos because of the Las Conchas Fire.  
As residents abandoned their homes to escape the fire, the firefighters of Los Alamos, including my daughter’s fiance, left their families to rush into harm’s way.  
During the first hours of the fire, the men and women who make up the Los Alamos Fire Department provided a protective barrier between Los Alamos and the fast moving fire.
There were no Hot Shots, helicopters with water buckets or planes with slurry, just the firefighters and personnel from Los Alamos County, making their stand by downing trees and making a barrier in order to try to get control of the direction of the fire.
Knowing a Los Alamos firefighter, I felt a different kind of fear than I had known during the Cerro Grande Fire. I watched my daughter’s anxiety grow over the little sleep and the many hours the firefighters worked before outside support arrived. I shared the fear felt by the families of these dedicated people.  
I also realized these experienced firefighters, who are trained and equipped to defend our town, are everyday people who we pass in the grocery store, or park next to at Sonic.
They have homes and plans with families they love but have chosen a career, which requires them to drop everything to protect our community. In an instance they transform from every day people into heroes.      
With the coordinated efforts by many government agencies and the help of volunteers, the LAFD were called again to protect and defend Los Alamos and they did an excellent job.  
Gratitude can come in words but respect is earned. The bravery of these men and women who stand between us and disaster has earned the highest level of respect from me.
Thank you to the firefighters who make up the Los Alamos fire Department.

Diane Vanoudenhaegen
White Rock