STRAWBERRY, Ariz. - The Backbone Fire is forcing evacuations in the town of Strawberry, but one hotel owner is doing what she can from afar and is providing firefighters a place to stay as they protect the town.
The Strawberry Inn is hosting firefighters during the firefight. The owners of the inn say it helps to know they're giving back to the crews saving their town.
The fire is burning dangerously close to Strawberry, forcing residents and tourists to evacuate on short notice last Friday.
Strawberry Inn. Photo courtesy of Amber Eilers
"It was extremely close, too close for comfort," said Amber Eilers, owner of the Strawberry Inn. She worked quickly to get her guests out of the hotel once evacuation orders came in.
"I started to feel really emotional and there were some tears, I am not going to lie," she said.
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Soon after leaving, fire crews took over the town to build fire lines and fight the flames.
She got a call late one night from firefighters, not about any bad news, but they had a request.
"They called me super late at night so when they get off in the morning they were supposed to sleep at a campground, I mean there are chain saws, it is super hot out, so it is super difficult to sleep," she said.
Since then, firefighters have been staying in the Strawberry Inn all thanks to Eilers, free of charge. She's providing them with a comfortable and cool place to sleep, a place to do their laundry and access to the internet.
"When you are in the hospitality industry, you love hosting guests, whether it is firefighters or normal guests. We are thankful to serve the community," Eilers said.
The owners are also working to raise money for the workers impacted in the town of Strawberry as well as provide goods at their local food pantry.
More information can be found here https://www.facebook.com/thestrawberryinn/