A letter from the Camp Fire
We love getting fan letters that share stories of outdoor escapes and travel adventures and photos of ancient sandals. Every so often, though, we get emails like this. It’s honestly hard to put into words what it’s like to read something like this on a Tuesday in January, tucked away in a comfy office and sipping warm coffee, utterly removed from the most recent natural disaster.
This email from Joe Greco touched us in so many ways. Thank you, Joe, for your amazing bravery and valor in the face of extreme danger, and for sharing your story and photos.
To The Keen Staff – “A Foot Saving Company”
Joe, home safe with his boots
I am with the Butte County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team, an all-volunteer organization. We have been working round the clock in our county due to the recent Camp Fire catastrophe, the most destructive fire ever to hit California. I have been meaning to write to you guys and let you know what an incredible product KEEN makes. I’m just now coming up for air, so here goes.
A fellow volunteer/member and myself responded to The Camp Fire incident – Feather River Hospital in Paradise, CA on Nov 8, 8:30 am, as it was beginning. Equipped with Nomex shirts and pants, a helmet and a pair of my favorite mid KEEN boots. Love these things.
Joe’s team rescuing a goat
Side note: I was introduced to KEEN by my wife, who has been buying KEEN for our son since he was three years old. He is “low [muscle] tone” and has significant balance, fine and gross motor skills delays. They have given him a ton of support over the years and allow him to “cinch” tight, Velcro strap and off to rough and tumble. My wife thought it would be cute to buy us similar shoes some years back. My son thought it was the coolest!
Stuck out on a main road…with fire burning over the road and at times over our truck, [my partner] and I made a decision to find a place to shelter and fight.
Anyway, our team had been dispatched to respond to Paradise to help evacuate the hospital and we found ourselves in a pretty hot spot. Stuck out on a main road in and out of Paradise, Pence Road, in gridlocked traffic, with fire burning over the road and at times over our truck, [my partner] and I made a decision to find a place to shelter and fight./
In front of us, an ambulance caught fire and patients were being loaded into a few rigs to find safety. I got out and ran up the road to them to see what we could do, to see what they were going to do. They needed shelter for those patients and we needed to get off this death trap of a road.
Pence Road, Paradise CA
Fire burning all around us, wind howling 60 miles per hour, propane tanks exploding, we took shelter in a house, down a cul-de-sac road. As we set up our defensive at this Chloe Courthouse, we joined several nurses from the hospital, several EMTs from the ambulance company and a Battalion Chief. You may have read this story on social media or heard it on the news…we are the Search & Rescue members who were embedded in this group now fighting this inferno, trying to stay alive.
Well, thankfully the story ends happily, we saved the patients, each other and even the house.
Protecting the house
We were in a very hot spot for an extended period of time, kicking down fences, stomping out fire, burning bushes, pine needles and coals.
KEEN, you saved my feet and maybe my bacon altogether that day! We were in a very hot spot for an extended period of time, kicking down fences, stomping out fire, burning bushes, pine needles and coals. (Don’t try this at home folks!) My boots? I know, I know, they aren’t fire rated or even leather for that matter… but remain intact, a bit tarnished, but mostly unscathed! I just stomped out another 8-mile fitness test in them over the weekend.
The burned out ambulance
Thank you KEEN for these boots! Thank you KEEN staff for your workmanship and dedication to creating a terrific product! Outdoor enthusiasts, my special needs son and even First Responders are lucky to have you!
Our Butte County Search & Rescue team motto is, we do what we do, “so others may live…”, I suppose it could be yours too.
Thanks again KEEN, for my feet!
Joe Greco – Badge #334
Sergeant – Treasurer
Butte County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue
A bit about the team
Let me introduce you to our Butte County Sheriff Search & Rescue Team. We are 100% unpaid volunteers, 100% un-tax subsidized, 100% funded by our community which we serve without reservation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We respond to wildfire and flood incidents as evacuation specialists, searches for lost, missing and injured persons, technical rope rescue including air rescue, swift water and dive rescues and mountain rescues. We are just over 50 in number; some of us business professionals, nurses, engineers, professors, ex-law enforcement, ex-fire and retirees. We operate as an auxiliary unit to the Butte County Sheriff but under non-profit 501(c)(3) status. We were ever-present at the Oroville, California Dam Spillway incident several years ago and respond to several hundred calls for help each year. Why do we do these things? We like to help others in need, particularly when that need is critical in nature. Our membership feel Search & Rescue work gives us an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to our community and to have a sense of a job well done. We, as volunteers take time away from home, work, family and friends to respond to a community in need. We are expected to solve a wide variety of problems in every imaginable condition of weather and terrain. To meet this challenge we depend entirely on contributions, grants and volunteer efforts.
Do you have a story to tell? Let us know. We’d love to share it.