During a press briefing Sunday morning, CAL FIRE operations chief Mark Brunton said the theft happened while the crew member was taking care of business and directing firefighting crews.
RELATED: Santa Cruz Co. family robbed of trailer with belongings after evacuating home during wildfire
Brunton said the extent to which people will go is "sickening" and said this is the last thing firefighters should have to deal with as they work to contain the hundreds of thousands of acres burning across the state under limited resources.
"It's saddening. It's sickening," Brunton said. "We are doing everything we can to try to help the community and unfortunately this happens."
Really? REALLY!?? While a Fire Ground Commander was battling flames, someone stole his wallet from his work truck & DRAINED HIS BANK ACCOUNT! UNCONSCIONABLE! This is another reason why we must stay out of the evacuated zones, not only reducing injury, but keeping ALL LOOTERS OUT! pic.twitter.com/W4YDGR4byv— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) August 23, 2020
Brunton reiterated the plea from officials that people evacuate the region. "Please again," he said. "If you're there, leave when asked to leave and let our folks get in there to do what they're doing."
WATCH: Officials give update on firefighter theft in Santa Cruz County
"To me, it's just mind-boggling that somebody would have the audacity to do something like that," said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart during a press briefing Sunday afternoon.
The robbery of a crew member comes after officials say they arrested five people on suspicion of looting from evacuated properties. "It's terrible and disgusting," Chief Deputy Chris Clark with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said on Friday. "These five decided to victimize several of our community members who are already hurting."
RELATED: CZU Lightning Complex Fire: Suspected Santa Cruz Co. looters ID'd, surveillance video shows theft
Come on, people.@CAL_FIRE says one of their crew members fighting the #CZULightningComplex had their car broken into, their belongings stolen and bank account drained.— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) August 23, 2020
They are also warning against scams (people pretending to be PG&E, etc.)
Authorities says there has been at least eight arrests, including the five identified with suspicion of looting and theft in Felton, Boulder Creek and Scotts Valley.
The CZU Lightning Complex fire is currently burning throughout San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. As of Sunday morning, the complex was 71,000 acres and increased to 8% containment, with 129 structures destroyed.
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