A commander fighting the CZU Lightning Complex fires in California had his wallet stolen from his work vehicle and his bank account drained.
Cal Fire Operations Chief Mark Brunton addressed the incident in a press conference on Sunday morning.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s sickening that one of our Fire Ground Commanders, in that area, while out taking care of business and directing firefighting crews, somebody entered his vehicle, his department vehicle, and stole his wallet and drained his bank account,” said Brunton.
He also reiterated that one of the reasons why officials are asking for people to evacuate was to avoid incidents such as this.
“We are doing everything we can to try to help the community,” he said.
The department’s Twitter account also warns of a fake GoFundMe that uses the commander’s name since the news broke.
Meanwhile, Chief Deputy Chris Clark with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office calls the incident an “absolutely disgusting behavior.”
“I can’t, frankly, I can’t believe that somebody would actually have the nerve to break into a firefighter’s vehicle or enter their vehicle to steal something from them when they’re there to protect the community. Honestly it blows me away.”
Officials are now investigating who stole the wallet – an incident that follows a series of looting that occurred days prior.
Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office said that five people were arrested for targeting homes of residents evacuated due to wildfires in Santa Cruz County.
According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart, around 100 law enforcement officers have been deployed to the area after a number of reports of looting came to their desk.
“I can’t imagine a bigger low-life,” said Hart, referring to the thief who stole the firefighter’s wallet. “The DA is going to hammer him.”
The CZU blaze was one of the 650 wildfires burning in California, in which most were attributed to more than 12,000 lightning strikes in the state since August 15.