Battling the Mussett Bayou Fire, physically and mentally

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — As the Mussett Bayou Fire continues to burn, many agencies are battling the blaze on the front lines.

The wildfire started on Wednesday and destroyed 33 homes in Santa Rosa Beach.

Two roads extremely impacted were Thompson Road and Woodshire Drive.

Friday was the first day many homeowners were able to see what type of shape their home was in after the fire and most of them find nothing but ash.

As homeowners are going through the unthinkable, first responders are also feeling the impact mentally.

“Anytime there’s a fire, you pride yourself as a fire fighter on ‘look what we saved’ and to see that many houses destroyed is just hard,” said South Walton Fire District Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez.

Kyle Bradley was the first ranger from the Florida Forest Service to respond to the call on Wednesday. He says he immediately knew to call in for more rangers to respond.

“You know, we tried everything that we could and still fell a little short in my book,” said Bradley.

While the homes impacted weren’t actually theirs, both men say seeing the destruction hurts them.

“It hits home. This is home for me. I work in Walton County and you always want to do everything you can to protect our citizens. That’s our job,” Bradley said.

Sanchez agrees, when the citizens are hurting, they are hurting.

“We dearly love our community and the people we serve and protect,” Sanchez said.

Thankfully though, no lives were lost and that still counts as a big win.

“That’s huge because at the end of the day, you live another chance to fight,” he said.

Even though they are also feeling the pain, Bradley says they are always committed to their jobs.

“We have a job to do no matter what happens we have to keep moving on. we’re still running fires. There’s fires in the county even with this one going so you have to keep your head on the swivel and move forward,” Bradley said.

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