North County first responders felt the strong appreciation of an entire community Saturday through words, brush strokes, videos and even tears.
“There’s nothing that we could say to thank them for all their help. They did an amazing job. They did an amazing job, and we’re forever grateful,” said Sheerien Arno, choking up.
She and her family were evacuated ahead of the Cocos Fire, but thanks to the diligent work of fire crews, their home was saved.
In recognition, she and other San Marcos residents put on a show and created banners at Mission Hills High School to celebrate its firefighters, police and deputies.
Sheerien’s son, Antonio, brought along pictures he and his classmates drew to represent the firefighters’ work.
“I did ‘Thank you Escondido and San Marcos firefighters,’ and I tried to draw a little fire,” the boy said as he pointed to his drawing.
Leonard Sanchez, a firefighter with the San Marcos Fire Department, told NBC 7 it’s great to know they make a difference and that all their efforts are appreciated. But for him, the residents don’t need to go out of their way to show their appreciation.
“Just a wave and a smile and a ‘thank you’ pretty much does it for me,” said Sanchez. “After 25 years, I love my job more today than probably the first day I started.”
That sentiment was echoed over in Carlsbad, where the city was holding a day of appreciation at the Safety Training Center for all involved in the Poinsettia Fire.
"We're here to take care of business, and to be told thank you for doing what we do is -- it's an unbelievably awkward position," said Mike Davis, fire chief for the city of Carlsbad.
Instead, he wanted to make the day about showing residents how much the fire department appreciates them.
The city gave back through free hot dogs, a tour of their base camp and a chance to check out police and fire vehicles.
"I'm extraordinarily proud of the firefighters who work for the city of Carlsbad and all of the North County,” said Davis. “As you can see, all of the engines over here are from our neighboring cities. We cannot do with without their help."
In one part of the center, people could record their stories and a “thank you” on video.
Eight-year-old Avery Vriones was more than happy to share her account. The Poinsettia Fire spread dangerously close to her school.
“There’s this soccer field or baseball field, and some of the fence got on fire, so they were the first one – this department was the first one to arrive,” she said.
When asked what she would say to the firefighters, she told NBC 7 “I would say, ‘Thank you for saving my school. You did a great job. I’m really proud of you guys.’”