Written by Gabriel Dillard
Local organizations are stepping up to the plate to help those impacted the hardest by the deadly Ferguson Fire, which entered its 22nd day with reports of evacuation orders in Yosemite Valley.
Brian Hughes, a 33-year-old captain from the elite Arrowhead Interagency Hotshot Crew, was struck and killed by a tree while fighting the blaze this weekend. Cal Fire heavy equipment operator Braden Varney, 36, died a couple of weeks ago after his vehicle overturned.
The Fresno Grizzlies and law firm McCormick Barstow are partnering to host Cal Fire Night at Chukchansi Park on Aug. 10. Two dollars from every walk-up ticket sold that night and $5 from every advance tickets purchased at this link https://groupmatics.events/s/other/Calfire4 will go to the families of Hughes and Varney.
The Grizzlies and McCormick Barstow agreed to prime the pump by making an initial $2,500 contribution.
“When something as tragic as this happens, it’s important that as a community we come together. The Grizzlies and McCormick Barstow are each a big part of the Central Valley and it’s our job to step up to the plate and create a night that can help these families and support CAL FIRE,” said Derek Franks, president of the Fresno Grizzlies. “With our partners at McCormick Barstow taking the lead, we’d love to have the community come together for a game and help raise as much money for these families as we can.”
The Grizzlies will also hold a silent auction of autographed game-worn jerseys from this season during Friday’s game, with proceeds donated to the families. A moment of silence for fallen firefighters will be observed prior to first pitch.
“When the Grizzlies called, we knew we had to help. It’s partnerships like this that can really help impact a community and families in need,” said Laura Wolfe, partner at McCormick Barstow. “We’re proud to be the partner for CAL FIRE Night at Chukchansi Park and will do everything we can to help generate revenue for these families. It’s a tragic time for them but we hope this night helps just a little bit.”
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians issued a statement this week inviting individuals and groups to donate to funds established to aid the families of these fallen firefighters. The 73,560-acre Ferguson Fire, which is 41 percent contained, is located in the tribe’s backyard just north of Auberry.
“Our Tribe is deeply saddened by these losses. These fire fighters are warriors fighting to protect families and communities and we honor their courage and sacrifice.” said Chairman Gary Walker of the North Fork Rancheria tribal council. “It’s difficult to overstate the importance fires and firefighting play in the Native culture or the deep respect we have for these brave individuals who put everything on the line.”
The tribe would also like people to support the California Fire Foundation, which provides emotional and financial assistance to the firefighting community.