National Guard helicopter pilots rescued campers trapped on all sides by deadly fires

California National Guard crew were sleeping cozily in their beds when they got the call. Dozens of campers were stranded by the Mammoth Lake Reservoir, northeast of Fresno, trapped on all sides by the fast-moving Creek Fire. All exit routes were blocked in the blaze. Firefighters had no way in to get them out.

According to ABC News, the National Guard took two helicopters, a CH-47 and a UH-60 Black Hawk, through the thick smoke and fire to rescue the men, women, and children who had found themselves encircled by fire in the middle of the night. When the helicopters arrived, they found the campers gathered on a dock just 50 feet from the encroaching blaze.

"There are a couple pictures out there and—not bravado—but it was five times worse than any of those pictures," CW5 Kipp Goding, who piloted the Black Hawk, told ABC. "Every piece of vegetation, as far as you can see around that lake, was on fire."


Knowing they were running out of time, they packed as many people as they could onto the helicopters—women and children first—in the first of several trips to retrieve more than 200 campers. Crew members were told they could bow out at any time if they felt it was too dangerous. Though some got nauseous from the smoke, they kept going.

"This was an entire crew, and an entire team decision, to keep on going," Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Rosamond, the pilot of the Chinook, told ABC.

"The conditions were pretty extreme," said Rosamond. "There were points along the route where ... we were just about ready to say that's enough."

Goding, the Blackhawk pilot who had 25 years experience as an Army helicopter pilot, including combat missions in the Middle East, told ABC that it was the No.1 or No. 2 most dangerous mission he'd ever flown.

After the overnight rescue at Mammoth Reservoir Saturday night, the continued helicopter missions as conditions permitted to get other people trapped by the Creek Fire out of harm's way. According to CBS Sacramento, the National Guard ultimately flew 373 people and 16 dogs to safety.

We need this kind of story right now. From southern California to northern Washington, the West Coast is experiencing a catastrophic fire season with no end yet in sight. People in Oregon are sharing surreal photos of apocalyptic red skies midday, a small town in eastern Washington saw 80% of its buildings and homes burn to the ground in a matter of hours, and Californians are battling both record-breaking heat and record-breaking fire loss, with 2 million acres already torched. Even people not directly impacted by fire are impacted by smoke and hazardous air quality.

Here's to the heroes risking their own lives to save others as 2020 continues to bring unprecedented disaster to our doorstep. If we have to deal with natural disasters on top of a freaking plague on top of economic hardship on top of missing hugging our friends, these inspiring examples of humanity and heroism help keep our spirits up.
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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.