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Wonderful Wildland Firefighters Auction Pays Off

L-R Mark Holland, Jeffrey Locke, Josh Willis, Natasha Fouts-Noble, Tom Wheeler, Morgan Kemple, Matthew Thiel, Jose Oliva, Travis Dean (photo credit Gina Clugston)

OAKHURST — The Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s first-ever local auction sparked a series of bids to help families of those injured or killed in the line of duty. With nine individuals on the auction block along with some high-value gift baskets, the nonprofit organization raised $2,665 for the cause.

Travis Dean

“Everyone had a great time,” says event organizer Erin Capuchino, adding absolute appreciation for the men and women who were up for bid.

Those brave and dedicated firefighters and supporters were (alphabetically) Travis Dean, Natasha Fouts-Noble, Mark Holland, Morgan Kemple, Jeffrey Locke, Jose Olivia, Matthew Thiel, Tom Wheeler, and Josh Willis. Bids ranged from $100 to a high of $600 for the good-hearted individuals who were willing to strut their stuff for the fund. In addition to the win, high-bidders were given gift cards to facilitate the outing at a later date.

“A huge thank you to the Yosemite Gateway Restaurant and to Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino for proving four of the dinner dates,” Erin notes. “I also want to thank the great committee we have, who planned this and are planning the Wildland Firefighter Hootenanny and Family Fire Camp in April.”

Among those committee members are Katie Wilson, Ariel Rodriguez, Anna Ressler, Morgan Kemple, Sonja Henderson, Sharleena Robison, Brandon Brown.

Morgan Kemple

“And more!” says Erin, who is already waist-deep in the big, fun Hootenanny and Family Fire Camp, set for Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.

“We still need sponsorships and donations for the Hootenanny as well as people to register for the Cornhole tournament, the 5K Fun Run and start buying dinner tickets. Local YHS Senior Gabbi Stegge is putting the run on and is doing great!”

The Hootenanny includes the aforementioned Cornhole Tournament, the 5K Fun Run, multiple raffles, an all-important Wildland Firefighter Foundation presentation, food trucks and Beer Garden, music, dancing, overnight camping with a campfire included, pancake breakfast and fun for the whole family. The event is a fundraiser for WFF.

“When the fire camps get set up during large campaign fires they are mini-cities,” Erin explains. “We want to create a similar set-up for families and the community to experience this. We invite local fire contractors to bring in equipment and some of the other interesting things that most would never experience without being out on the fire line. We feel this event will be a great kickoff to fire season.

Erin Capuchino (photo credit Gina Clugston)

For more information on how you can help contact Erin Capuchino via email or text (559) 308-1767.

Wildland Firefighter Hootenanny tickets and information.

Special thanks to Ariel Rodriguez for the additional photos.

The role of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is to honor past, present, and future wildland firefighters by helping maintain and grow the national monument established for those who have lost their lives, operate a financial fund providing assistance to the families of fallen and wildland firefighters and to injured firefighters, and partner with private and interagency organizations to educate the public about wildland fires and promote excellence and safety in firefighting.

Nicole Settlemyer was the high bidder for Travis

Jack Thornburg was the highest bidder for Tom

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