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Huntsville native returns home from fighting Camp Fire

Zack McMahon is from Huntsville and was working as a wildland firefighter in Oregon when he was called out to California to help with Camp Fire.

Posted: Nov. 20, 2018 10:32 PM
Updated: Nov. 20, 2018 10:41 PM

As of Tuesday night, Cal Fire reports Camp Fire is 75% contained. That's why Huntsville native Zack McMahon was able to head back to his Oregon home.

"It was almost like seeing a tornado had gone through there, but instead of a tornado it was just fire. Everything was charred and there's nothing left but remains of what was a town," McMahon said.

McMahon shared video and several pictures with WAAY 31 of what he saw while in Paradise, California.

"It was different than anything I've ever seen," McMahon said.

He also told us the fire is different than what he's used to.

"Normally we fight fire out in the woods. This time we're fighting fire and we're in cities, we're in neighborhoods," McMahon said.

McMahon spent 14 days fighting the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, sometimes working 24 hours straight to get the fire contained.

"It's a crazy feeling. You're working on a mountain, you're putting in a hand line on the side of a hill and when you look over to the mountain on the left there's just a wall of fire on top of it coming down towards you. When you're really in front of the fire you get this, the sky turns reddish orange and you can barely see the sun. You can barely see 30 feet in front of you," McMahon said.

McMahon is back home in Oregon now after working with firefighters from places like Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska. Many of them are waiting for Wednesday's chance of rain.

"Potentially, depending on how much rain, it could cause mudslides, but if anything that helps us a lot because that will bring the humidity up and it will put water on the ground for us," McMahon said.

McMahon told WAAY 31 he and his fellow firefighters in Oregon are on standby and ready to go back if needed, but for now he's asking everyone to pray for Paradise.

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