california licensed kim hammar
Carmel Valley/Cachagua Firefighters
by Jennifer Lagier

Firefighters put themselves on the line,
battle lightning strike blaze during 48-hour shifts,
clear brush to protect structures,
rescue people and pets,
risk their lives to stop fire’s spread.

Soot and ash blizzard from hellish sky.
Hazardous smoke billows over hills, into canyons.
Thousands of acres ignite, are consumed.
Three lose their own homes yet continue
the searing battle in soaring heat,
carve defensible perimeters with bulldozers,
create bare earth breaks across rugged terrain.

Men and women volunteers
come when called,
beat back raging towers of flame,
earn their neighbors’ gratitude,
receive thanks and respect,
our community’s heroes.

PHOTO: California firefighters by Kim Hammar, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the horrific wildfires of 2016 and the current Carmel and River fires, volunteer firefighters of Carmel Valley and Cachagua have performed as superheroes, saving homes and businesses, going above and beyond to rescue people and their animals, earning our community’s undying gratitude and respect. The photo I took of a thank you sign reflects but one of the many, many signs now lining Carmel Valley Road, River Road, Highway 68, Laureles Grade, and beyond.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published eighteen books. Her work appears in From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction & Recovery.
Her newest book is Camille Comes Unglued (Cyberwit). Forthcoming is Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press). Visit her at