At the Valley Fire Tent Village

There's a slight scent of smoke in the air, and the tent village is emptying there. I went on Monday, day 8. People were packing up their tents and trucks, rounding up the kids. It was blistering hot. I talked to a lot of people who lost everything, while I was helping them load up their gear. A few had been watching the fire on television, then turned and saw it in their yard. Terrifying.

It's our own little refugee crisis. People were so vulnerable, so real. They cried, they looked into the distance with a thousand yard stare, they talked about rebuilding. Listening to people who were this open, undefended, I could feel them down into my bones.

Someone asked me why I went. I said, "My town is one match from this disaster. I wanted to get my hands dirty."

It didn't seem like the fire was somewhere else.