Florida firefighter returns home after battling wildfires in Oregon

PALM CITY, Fla. - A Florida firefighter just returned from battling a massive wildfire in Oregon.  

In the rugged Cascade Mountains through the heart of Oregon, the massive Nena Springs wildfire raged, forcing evacuations in parts of the nearby town of Warm Springs.

"For me, I had a 12-hour notice I was going to go to Oregon for 18 days," said Christopher Jacobson, a Florida Forest Service wildland firefighter based out of Palm City. He just got home Sunday.

"It's an awesome feeling while you're out there, you can't wait to come home and see your family and eat some real food again but as soon as I came home, I'm ready to go back," Jacobson said in an interview Thursday.

On the front lines of disaster, there aren't hotels or hot meals. All your essentials in your backpack. He estimates he hiked 4 to 8 miles a day.

“A lot of us were wearing the same clothes for about two weeks," said Jacobson.

His one comfort was an inflatable pillow.

So how does one choose to leave comfort behind and head into a wildfire or a hurricane like Harvey?

"We go out there with a good mindset, we try to stay positive.  And we always say, we signed up for this," said Jacobson. "Nobody is making us go.  We volunteered ourselves to go. It’s what we signed up to do. It’s what we love doing."

Through the flames there was a moment of beauty during the eclipse on Aug. 21. The firefighters enjoyed their moment in the moon’s shadow.

“We all get our glasses out, we’re on a hilltop and we just took like 15-20 minutes and we’re just watching the full eclipse go by.  As soon as it’s done, we’re back to work,” said Jacobson.

Perhaps it was a gift for their strong character.

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