Transcription of interview with Mike Danz, Black Earth Fire Department
"We started crawling in the back of the trailer [that was on fire] looking for this lady who was supposedly still home. . . All the furniture had fallen down around us, so we're crawling through all the lamps and the tables, and the chairs were thrown about and it was very full of clutter anyway. It was an older lady and she had lived there for twenty-five years and she'd kept everything.
"As we crawled through one room and didn't find her we crawled to the next room, then we'd go to the next room. . . . We were headed down the hall to go to the kitchen, myself and my brother were both searching for her. As we went down the hall, the smoke got very thick, we couldn't see anything.
"The heat was getting very intense. It started to hurt coming through your gear. We had one room left . . . as we got closer to the kitchen both myself and my brother fell through the floor. At that moment, I was the most scared I'd ever been. We had to go from looking for her to figuring out how to get ourselves out of there without dying.
"So I helped my brother out of the hole and he helped me out of the hole and we hightailed it to the back door.
"I don't want to know more than the guy next to me. If we were all in the fire department, I would want every one of you to know just as much as I know. Because if you don't, and I depend on you to know something and I kept it a secret the whole time, it may cost me in the end. So it's better not to have secrets.
"Out here we get wildfire and they're grass and pine trees. . . . We were going through there putting the fire out and putting the fire out and, all of a sudden, the wind turned, and it turned the whole fire and it started coming at us. Just faster than I could run. And I'm running and it's getting closer and closer and closer, and just in the nick of time a jeep comes by, and I was able to jump in the back of the jeep and hide down between the wheel well, and we had to drive straight through that fire as fast as we could in that truck. And that was very hot and very scary."
---Transcribed by Emma