ALPINE (KGTV) - Dozens of veterans and first responders packed up camp Sunday, finishing a week and a half long training, preparing them to provide aide if disaster strikes.
Three canvas tents sat in a row across the bare field closest to the entrance of the Campbell Creek Ranch, one of the casualties of the West Fire in July of 2018. The inhabitants, volunteers for Team Rubicon, a non-profit started by two marines who gathered a volunteer team to help out in Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010.
Most of the 68 volunteers were veterans, and some were first responders. All of them learned how to become sawyers, cutting down hundreds of trees.
An incredibly dangerous process, "people can become injured or we can create a disaster on our own," Incident Commander Jesse Bucholtz said. He emphasized how invaluable training is, "these guys went through 32 hours of in classroom training, plus another 48 hours out in the field cutting down trees."
"We did $109,000 worth of labor here," Bucholtz said the transformation brought tears to the owner's eyes when he brought them a cake out of gratitude.
These teams of volunteers help homeowners who cannot afford help themselves. In this case, learning in an area that is controlled, is safer.
Their goal, according to Bucholtz, being able to deploy to hurricane ravaged Florida, "we need to build our sawyer base in order to serve the people in Mexico Beach, Florida, right now."
Along the way, they built a community of their own, some friendships lasting years.
One of the teams heads up to Lake Elsinore Monday morning to help homeowners affected by mudslides.