BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — A Boynton Beach man has been paying close attention to the wildfires in northern California because his hometown is in the crosshairs.
Video from Ryan Okrant shows some of the destruction from the CZU wildfire in Boulder Creek, California.
Okrant is a native to that area and moved to Boynton Beach a few years ago.
Watching a wildfire burn near his family's home from 2,500 miles away is hard.
"I knew that I could help," Okrant said.
With donated airline miles from friends, Okrant went to California to help. He had 500 N95 masks to hand out and he quickly learned there was a different need after the fire.
"This concept of a second responder really needs to exist," Okrant said.
Okrant was able to gain access to closed areas by volunteering with a local paper.
People started asking him to check on their animals.
" I was in contact with people who lost their homes and their cats were still there," Okrant said. "The more I could help the better it would be for the whole community."
Okrant said he's created a non-profit called ASSERT, which stands for Animal Survival, and Safety Emergency Response Team. It's a team that goes in after the first responders to help.
"I'd love to branch out and be involved in tornadoes and hurricanes," Okrant said.
Okrant said he plans to go to back to California soon. Volunteers are helping feed and take care of animals he started to help.
For more information about ASSERT, click here.