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Making a Brave Firefighter Cry Tears of Joy

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Making brave firefighters cry tears of joy COURTESY KAYLA STEPHENS
Making Brave Firefighters Cry Tears of Joy

To a very special group of heroes, Hayesville is a town full of angels—as was shown in a story that garnered national headlines.

It was the start of Hayesville’s slow season and the Clay County Fire and Rescue staff was readying to take a break when the wildfires broke out. The local fire department did their best to battle the fires, but 10 acres quickly turned into 100 and it overwhelmed the tiny town.

So the government sent in the “Hotshots,” federal firefighters who deal with such catastrophes.

Hayesville welcomed their new visitors with open arms and ensured that the Hotshots had everything needed to successfully fight the flames, thanks to the town’s 200-plus volunteers who worked around the clock.

“Every day multiple vans and cars would pull up to the home base to donate water, Powerade, non-perishables, offer a listening ear or just to pray over the men and women helping keep our forest lands from burning and our homes safe,” says Kayla Stephens, a Hayesville resident.

The local youth even wanted to chip in and do their part to help, so thousands of thank-you cards were written.

“We posted them on the walls, packed them in lunches, and put them on placements for mealtime,” says Gottlieb.

So much help was offered, that donations had to be turned down. Volunteers had to be told to go home.

The town worked tirelessly for 32 days straight and the fires were extinguished. The Hotshots were so overwhelmed by the support they received from the people of Hayesville that they created a video thanking the town.

“You guys do not know how much you mean, all the support you guys give us,” says Ron, a firefighter from Oregon, in the video, which you can see below. “Out of four years that I’ve been fighting fire, this is about the most hospitable state and county that I’ve ever been in.”

“I had never in my 29 years seen a community be so selfless and kind,” says Stephens. “I cried multiple times that summer and fall over the generosity and bigheartedness of the community.”

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