People across the nation are expressing their gratitude for the firefighters in Southern California after an emotional photograph of the exhausted and hardworking heroes resurfaced on the Internet in light of the Woolsey and Hill fires.
In the remarkable shot, firefighters are seen lying on their equipment, bags and each other as they sleep on the grass outside after tirelessly working several 24-hour shifts.
The photo, featuring the first responders from the Tehachapi Wildland Fire Crew 11, was first shared on Instagram by the Kern County Fire Department in December 2017. It was originally posted to show the public how the local firefighters had been fighting the Thomas Fire in Montecito, California.
However, after the recent wildfires viciously burned through Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and Newbury Park — displacing thousands of people from their homes — the photograph has now returned and many are using it as a visual aid to express gratitude and support for the hardworking first responders.
“An image is worth a thousand words,” Chmerkovskiy, 32, began his post on Sunday. “I’ll add a few of my own. As our beautiful state burns there are the ones that are fleeing and those that are going towards the fire, literally. These brave men and women, are truly heroes.”
“The courage, the compassion, and the sense of responsibility that these guys have is absolutely jaw dropping,” he continued. “This image is just a small glimpse of the reality of sacrifice that has to be made by regular people in a position of extraordinary proportion. This is what heroes are made of.”
The professional ballroom dancer also asked his followers to post suggestions of how to help the firefighters in the comments section.
As for Hart, he shared the photo on his Instagram and thanked the first responders for “putting their lives on the line” to stop the massive wildfires.
“You men & women are true heroes & me and my family thank you,” the actor, 39, wrote. “My heart & prayers go out to all families in the affected areas….This is honestly Unbelievable what we are witnessing at this very moment. God have mercy on us all.”
Also adding to the firefighter appreciation posts was Maria Shriver, who shared her own multi-photo tribute on Instagram.
“They are still fighting. While we sleep they work, they keep on,” the journalist, 63, wrote alongside the photos. “We owe our safety to them and our hopes are with them. Thank you to California’s best!”
The two wildfires currently burning through Southern California, dubbed the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire, have forced thousands of people in the area to flee their homes for safety, including many high-profile celebrities.
As of Monday morning, the Woolsey Fire had covered 91,572 acres and was only 20 percent contained. The Hill Fire, on the other hand, had spread over 10,000 acres in the Newbury Park area — just blocks away from the Thousand Oaks bar where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting last Wednesday.
Many Southern California residents’ homes were decimated by the Woolsey fire, including former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Camille Grammer and Gerard Butler, who shared a photo of himself Sunday standing next to the charred remains of his own home.
Other stars affected include Alyssa Milano, Rainn Wilson, and Eddie McClintock; the Kardashians were also in harm’s way.
Last week, Kim Kardashian West told her fans that she had just flown back to her Hidden Hills property when she found out that Calabasas was under threat from the Woolsey Fire — and she only had one hour “to pack up and evacuate our home.”
Kourtney Kardashian fled for safety too, while siblings Khloé Kardashian and Rob Kardashian hunkered down together with their respective daughters, True Thompson, 6 months, and Dream Kardashian, who turns 2 on Saturday.
In addition to the two wildfires burning in Southern California, an intense brush fire broke out in Northern California, causing thousands to evacuate, according to The Weather Channel. It’s being called the “Camp Fire.”
On Monday, The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that 29 people have died from the northern wildfires.