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Saturday, December 11, 2010

BVFD Update - Injured firefighter/EMT Ben Hakala improving

“Ben is doing well” – support for the injured firefighter continues

Posted by Kathy Thompson on December 10th, 2010
“Ben is doing well” is the word on Bodega Volunteer Fire Department’s firefighter/EMT Ben Hakala who was critically burned from a downed power line in September’s raging wildfire near the town of Bodega.

Cal Fire’s Gino DeGrassi echoed the words of Chief Ron Albini of the BVFD about Hakala’s current condition.

DeGrassi was one of the organizers of a Pasta Dinner Fundraiser held last month at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building for the trust fund that had been set up for Hakala immediately after his injuries were known about.

The event was put on by the joint efforts of the BVFD, Cal Fire, and Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services, assisted by numerous donations of food, wine, beer, and auction and raffle prizes from both Sonoma and Napa counties.

“It was a sell-out crowd,” DeGrassi reported. “Everyone rallied round to make it a huge success.”
Although the amount of money that has been donated to the trust fund is being kept private out of respect for the family, DeGrassi said that “our goal was $25,000 for the night and we took in right around that number.”
Thousands of dollars had already been received from individuals, groups, pancake breakfasts and other fundraising events in response to the heroism of Hakala.

He is now at home with his wife and daughter and has under gone many surgeries, including skin transplants at the burn unit of St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco.

“Ben was acting as a volunteer that day,” said DeGrassi. “It’s the ultimate thing a person can do – putting himself out there for his community.

For firefighters and other first responders, whether it’s a fire, accident, or rescue, it’s helping people who are probably having the worst day of their lives that makes it so worthwhile.”

Photo courtesy of Bodega Volunteer Fire Dept.

98 acres, including pasture land for sheep, went up in flames in the two-day fire of September 25th & 26th that threatened the town of Bodega itself.

Highway One was closed at the point of the fire, resulting in a long detour for people trying to get out to Bodega Bay, five miles away on the coast.

A few parked vehicles and out-buildings were burnt, but no one else was hurt and lives and homes were saved by the combined efforts of several fire-fighting units and the use of bulldozers, helicopters, and airplanes dropping fire retardants.

Because Hakala was one of the first on the scene, early assumptions have been that it was the same power line that injured him that also started the fire.

So far, however, the cause of the fire has not been officially announced.

To help the Hakala family, send a check to the Ben Hakala Trust Fund, c/o Bodega Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 25, Bodega, CA 94922.

Source: Article at the Link

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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