Agencies help Arizona family prepare for wildfire season and recover from Ocotillo Fire

A team of first responders came together to support a Cave Creek family that is trying to recover following the Ocotillo wildfire last summer -- but now they're better prepared for the next fire to come their way.

"That was tough."

"Tough" only begins to describe Fernando Villalobos and his family.

Last summer's Octotillo Fire ripped through their property, causing heavy damage.

"This family lost quite a bit of their property to the fire itself. They also did lose a building at the back of their residence. But it was just another thing that added to things they already had going on in life," said Shawn Gilleland of the Rural Metro Fire Department.

The wildfire burned about 1,000 acres in the Cave Creek area, destroyed eight homes and 12 structures. And as temperatures start to increase, another wildfire threat is looming this year.

On May 1, Rural Metro, Arizona Foothills 911, and United Maricopa Firefighters teamed up to help keep the Villalobos family from suffering another major blow.

"We always preach the defensible space, creating that 30-foot buffer. And that's exactly what we're doing. We're removing all the fire fuel we can away from the house. All this debris that could actually either start a fire or be more fuel for the fire and getting it out of there so that if in the unfortunate event that something happens in this area, this house can be protected easily," said Gilleland.

The massive outpouring of support, left Fernando very grateful for the community he and his family have called home for decades.

"He's very happy and thankful to everyone. He's thankful to God for all the people he's sent to help him. And he's hoping that someday he'll be strong enough to help the community and give back the way the community has given to him," said Sunny Parker, an interpreter for Arizona Foothills 911.

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