The call came over the radio: A brush fire was just down the road.
Inside Engine 120, a Sanger firefighter turned on the siren and honked the horn. Within a few seconds, the truck had arrived at the blaze.
Out stepped the station's newest -- and smallest -- firefighter: 3-year-old Sebastien Daniel.
With his hands firmly gripping the fire hose -- and his 5-year-old brother and a grown-up firefighter manning the hose behind him -- Sebastien extinguished the small fire that had cropped up inside a tinfoil pan. Once the smoke cleared, the two boys splashed around in the puddle of water they had created.
At the Sanger Fire Headquarters on Tuesday, about a dozen firefighters watched as the Fresno boy snuffed out their controlled fire. His parents looked on as well, knowing their son was making the most of his last few months of life.
Sebastien -- a bright-eyed and energetic boy with a quick wit -- is terminally ill with leukemia. His mother, Shannon Daniel, says she expects the disease will drain the energy from her son within the next few weeks. But for now, Sebastien behaves like any other 3-year-old.
During a tour of the fire station, Sebastien trotted around in his Sanger Fire Department uniform, bouncing off the dorm-room beds and the living room's sofa chairs. Almost every time he opened his mouth, the same question came out: "What's that?"
When the firefighters told him they had something new to show him, he shouted: "Let's go!" -- and then ran off.
The Daniel family moved to Fresno from Los Angeles about 2½ years ago. Sebastien was diagnosed with leukemia in March and went through four rounds of chemotherapy. He received a bone-marrow transplant from his 5-year-old brother, Julien, but the cancer returned. Sebastien's parents have been told that he has about two months left to live -- "if we're lucky," Shannon Daniel said.
Her husband, Jean-Michel Daniel, says he has struggled to come to terms with Sebastien's prognosis.
"It just doesn't make any sense, to be honest with you," he said.
Through a friend, the Daniel family asked the Sanger Fire Department to help fulfill Sebastien's wish to be a firefighter for a day. A handful of off-duty firefighters organized the event.
Sebastien got a tour of the headquarters, was fed pizza and ice cream, held the firehouse cat, Fuego, and -- of course -- got to ride in a fire engine and put out a fire.
Chief Clyde Clinton presented Sebastien with a helmet and a certificate naming him Sanger's first reserve captain. Clinton said it was the first time the department has offered such VIP treatment to a terminally ill patient.
"What I see in this child is a mentor," Clinton said later. "He's not looking at death, he's looking at life."
The family is heading to Disney World on Saturday for a trip sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It will be Sebastien's first trip there -- and his first time on a plane.
While Sebastien and his brother ran around the fire station, his parents -- who have both shaved their heads to show their support for Sebastien, whose hair was lost in his medical treatment -- shook hands with firefighters and thanked them.
"It's been awesome," Jean-Michel Daniel said. "Unfortunately, every moment counts now."
Source: Fresno Bee Link