SALINAS, Calif. - This week marks six months since devastating wildfires swept through the North Bay Area.
The Napa County Sheriff came to Salinas Tuesday morning, to personally thank the men and women of Monterey County’s Search and Rescue team.
The team had a grueling task during those fires that charred thousands of acres and took more than 40 lives.
"We came to houses that were two stories high that were just maybe a foot high, it was really stunning. Cars were melted, I mean it was really devastating,” said Monterey County Search and Rescue volunteer, Alain Claudel.
Claudel remembers the devastation of the North Bay fires last October.
His team was sent to Napa and Sonoma counties to first help with evacuation efforts then transitioned and tasked with finding the remains of people believed to have been killed.
Monterey County Sheriff’s Commander Joe Moses said, "It’s very taxing so it’s hard to prepare mentally for that kind of destruction and what you're actually looking for. We're sifting through ashes of homes looking for remains and that is very difficult.”
Six months later their efforts were recognized by one of the agencies they helped.
"I just really want to thank them for coming up,” said Napa Sheriff John Robertson.
Tuesday morning, Robertson personally thanked each and every member saying not only did they help save peoples' lives but helped bring closure to victims' families.
Six lives were lost in Napa County dozens of others in Sonoma County.
While those fires were some of the darkest days for people there the bright light was the 38 agencies who sent resources to help.
"I’ve never participated in an event of this size and I made a commitment that I would honor and thank each person individually. And so I’ve started going around to different counties and boards of supervisors” said Robertson.
Team members said they don't do it for the recognition, but to help those in need.
"It’s nice to be appreciated to realize that a job well done and a lot of our search and rescue members are volunteers. They're taking their time off of work, they're using vacation time, to go and do this and help other people. And just to have that type of recognition from the sheriff of the county that we assisted is huge for us, it makes us want to do it again,” said Commander Moses.
After asking Sheriff Robertson how Napa County is coping after such a devastating loss he said they're making progress, getting the ground cleared and getting back on the path to recovery.