North Bay firefighters stayed on the line as they lost homes

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Firefighters by training and by instinct have spent a week battling the North Bay fires. But about 40 of them have quietly been dealing with the loss of their own homes. On Monday, some started to deal with the insurance paperwork and wrapping their heads around the ordeal facing their families.

John Bagala, VP of Marin Professional Firefighters, has been bringing them in, one at a time, to an office in Santa Rosa set up to be a clearing house for firefighters. They are being offered counseling, financial assistance, and the assurance that they and their families will get the support they need. Active and retired firefighters are included in the count; one of them retired just two weeks ago.

There are also concerns that these firefighters may be dealing with PTSD and health issues from the inhalation of thick smoke and toxins generated by the fires.

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The command center dealing with firefighters who have lost their homes is busy compiling a list of rooms and houses and even RV's and mobile homes that people are offering as temporary shelter.

One of the victims is 25-year firefighter veteran Dmitri Menzel, a Novato Fire Dept. Battalion Chief. His house in the Mark West Springs area was burned to the ground. His wife and daughter were home at the time. They have found nothing to salvage from what was a four bedroom, three bath, two-story, 2700 square foot house built in 1999. Menzel says it was a tidal wave of flame that torched his neighborhood, burning at an estimated 1500 degrees. Only the ceramic shower stall stands.

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He says it's humbling to be on the receiving end of help when firefighters are trained to offer help and comfort in a disaster. He recognizes it will be years before his life is put back together.

A fund has been established to help firefighter victims. To donate, you can ext "ffstrong" to 41444 or visit this GoFundMe page. That is the official fundraising platform for firefighters who lost their homes in the Sonoma and Napa firestorm. It is managed by IAFF Local 1775.

Click here for full coverage of the North Bay fires.

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