PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Some local volunteers are literally putting themselves in the line of fire.
Several Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast volunteers of the American Red Cross are helping wildfire victims across the country, including in Colorado.
Twelve hours after Steve Bayer got the call, he was on a flight to Colorado Springs. The Boynton Beach man says he is trying to make a difference more than 2,000 miles away from his Florida home. Bayer is stationed at the Cheyenne Mountain High School Shelter near Colorado Springs. The fiery slopes in El Paso County are, for now, his ground zero.
Bayer is trying to help some of the more than 30,000 people who have been evacuated in recent days in what has become the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.
"People have been coming here because their homes have been destroyed or they don't know whether they've been destroyed yet," he said on Friday evening.
The 15 year Red Cross volunteer was present on Thursday, as hundreds of nervous Colorado residents learned if their homes were still standing or if they had been reduced to ashes.
"Some people burst out crying," said Bayer. "Some people said, 'I'm glad I know now what happened and I can go on with my life'. And other people just stood around in shock," he said.
Bayer was among those who shook President Barack Obama's hand after the president arrived in Colorado to survey the damage.
"I said 'Mr. President, thank you for coming here.' And he said, 'No, let me thank you for doing what you're doing for the residents here'," said Bayer.
Local American Red Cross volunteers are currently working in three states, including Florida in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby.
Volunteers are also stationed in Montana and Colorado on the front lines of several wildfires.
"From this small region, we have 13, 14 , 15 volunteers who are in leadership positions making a difference across the country," said Rob Levine, CEO of the American Red Cross for the Palm Beaches-Treasure Coast Region.
Volunteers are sheltering, feeding and even lending an ear to those whose homes - and lives - are still hanging in the balance.
"When you see the new, fresh smoke it is really disturbing to know that that was somebody's house," said Bayer.
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