(Excerpt below from OC Register article)
When your partner in life makes his or her living walking into wildfires, the worst fear is about what you don’t know.
“It’s the wondering,” confesses Melissa Holaday, whose husband, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Paul Holaday, was scheduled to come home Christmas Eve after a long stint of fire fighting in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
But, in truth, that return wasn’t assured. Holaday has no idea when she will see the man she married 18 years ago.
Up on the fire line, the feeling is different. They are smokey, sooty, exhausted; but at least they know they are alive.
For fire families, the worst day (so far) of this month’s fires came Dec. 16, when word spread that a firefighter had perished in smoke and scalding temperatures while beating back the Thomas fire.
Many on the line quickly learned that the man in question was 32-year-old Cory Iverson. But they also knew that until his name became public all of their families back home would be haunted.
“My wife hears a firefighter died in the fire…” Paul Holaday said quietly, trying to explain the tension between bites of the dinner he was eating in a vast, make-shift camp at Lake Cachuma.
“… I wanted to text her right away.”
But it wasn’t that simple. Like thousands battling one of California’s worst wildfires, Holaday has spent every moment focused on saving homes and lives, including his own and the people on his team.
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