‘Tune in to Dan’: Californians uprooted by the Dixie fire find a link to home online.


TAYLORSVILLE, Calif. — In the six lengthy weeks since the Dixie fire, the second-largest blaze on report in California, erupted in the northern Sierra Nevada, the fire has scorched huge tracts of forest, incinerated gold-rush cities, and upended thousands of lives, forcing folks throughout 1,000 sq. miles to flee their properties.

Through all of it, the scattered residents of the space round Greenville, a town of about 1,000 that was all but destroyed early this month, have been in a position to rely on one factor, at the very least: the raspy, reassuring voice of Daniel Kearns serving to them to make sense of what’s going on again home.

Mr. Kearns, a volunteer firefighter from close by Taylorsville, posts each day dwell movies on-line that designate the latest fire activity maps — which at a look would possibly look as if the fire had swallowed the place complete — and that present that actuality on the floor, although very, very smoky, is a little much less terrifying than it would seem from afar.

“Only through all this can I hear that the fire is around our family home and feel calm about it,” Michaela Garcia wrote about Mr. Kearns’s movies this week from Chico. “Thank you, Dan, we are truly so lucky.”

A former Marine, Mr. Kearns, 39, can venture calm even when the mountain behind him is on fire and pouring smoke — because it was this week whereas the fire menaced Taylorsville — or when it’s approaching locations he is aware of effectively. “My mom’s,” he mentioned lately, pointing at the map.

He started posting the daily live videos on his personal Facebook page in late July, about two weeks after the Dixie fire erupted, as a result of he noticed misinformation spreading on-line about cities being destroyed in the Indian Valley, which is surrounded by densely forested mountains. “I could tell it was really upsetting people,” he mentioned.

The viewers for the movies surged after Greenville burned down on Aug. four and extra of the space was evacuated in the following weeks. Even as he assisted fire crews keeping off the flames, Mr. Kearns gathered info for his movies by touring the valley in his fire engine, and assembly often with Forest Service personnel.

Many native residents felt that the fire authorities’ own briefings had been superficial or that they painted a misleadingly cheery image of occasions on the floor, mentioned Travis Rubke, a retired science trainer who had to evacuate from Greenville. “It’s good to have a local,” Mr. Rubke mentioned. “People say, ‘You’ve got to tune in to Dan.’”

The Lookout, a web site run by Zeke Lunder, a forestry and fire skilled whose warmth maps and evaluation are additionally broadly adopted by folks in the fire’s path, has referred to him as “volunteer community PIO/hero Daniel Kearns.” And his movies now get as many as 3,000 views a day from folks as far-off as New Mexico and New Zealand.

“I’ve found that the truth, no matter how painful and ugly it is, calms people down,” Mr. Kearns mentioned, in an interview. “And this is a very important time for people to be calm.”

There is extra to his attraction, although, than simply the newest information. Mr. Kearns personalizes his movies with off-the-cuff remarks, passionate critiques of federal forest administration insurance policies and soulful reflections on “the trauma on our land and people.”

He closes every video by taking off his cap, closing his eyes and calling for “a moment of silence for our natural relations” — the burning forests and the bears, foxes, deer and different wildlife that dwell in them.

Those moments — like the movies themselves — have supplied a each day ritual for folks flung removed from their properties and neighbors, and a mantra for these nonetheless in the valley who’re attempting to maintain the flames away from cattle ranches and sacred Native American ground.

Mr. Kearns says he hopes to stay a voice of calm and a supply of correct info so long as the fire persists. But he usually reminds his viewers, “I’m just a guy.”

And if higher-ups don’t like his movies, he says, the worst they will do is take away his cap.





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