Local firefighter helps evacuated neighbors after battling Caldor

Laney Griffo
Chip Froberg (left) has been firefighting for nearly 20 years but has never fought one so close to home. (Provided)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Thousands of firefighters helped and are helping fight the Caldor Fire, and many of those are local.

Chip Froberg is one of those local firefighters who has helped fight Caldor but he used his time off to help take care of his neighbors’ properties after they were evacuated.

Froberg was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe. He worked with the forest service for 13 years and has been a contract engine boss for about five years.

When the Caldor Fire started, he was stationed down the hill in Grizzly Flats. He was moved up to the basin before the fire jumped the summit to prepare for the possibility of the fire making it that far. He spent the rest of his time on the fire in the Tahoe Basin.

In his nearly 20 years of firefighting, Froberg has never worked on a fire so close to home.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Froberg said. “Doing fire for as long as I have and seeing what it does and seeing how it’s been behaving and seeing it come up to Tahoe … you can always plan for that but now there’s a fire actually coming.”

He said when the fire was moving towards Tahoe, he was filled with many emotions but once it arrived, he went into “game mode.”

Even though the area he calls home was in danger, his priority was to look out for his crew members around, just like on any other fire. Still, there were things about working on this fire that were different from others such as the preventative work he’d done on the area.

When he was working for the forest service, Froberg did a lot of fuel abatement projects. While fighting Caldor, he ran into many of the areas where he had done fuel abatement in the past.

“It was kind of cool to see stuff that I’d worked on almost 20 years ago on fuels abatement with the forest service, that stuff held,” Froberg said.

Once his shifts were done, he continued providing a service to his community.

“I was watering plants and just cruising by people’s houses, making sure they were okay … just stupid, silly [stuff] but it puts people’s minds at ease, you know, because that’s stressful for anyone,” Froberg said.

He had several people reach out to him on Facebook, asking him to make sure their properties were okay. When asked why he did it, Froberg said, “it’s just what you do as a local.”

Now that the Caldor Fire has been further contained, Froberg has been reassigned to another fire in California.

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