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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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.