Hillsborough County wildland firefighter joins efforts in California

For two weeks, certified wildland firefighter Rebecca Winch left her home in Florida and joined firefighters from across the country to fight the Dolan Fire in Big Sur California.

The Dolan fire is believed to have been started by arson. More than 128,000 acres have burned. Rebecca's crew worked at night, watching backburned areas and making sure no new fire popped up.

"They need all of the help they can get. They are really short on resources. We laid down a lot of hose to protect the structures, we were watching for things rolling downhill towards structures, but honestly, we kept all those structures safe and that’s what matters," said Winch. "If fire gets below you it can roll uphill very quickly so you always have to be on your toes."

By daylight, her rig encountered the locals.

"They were really thrilled we were there. It was great to meet them and get a feel on how they were being affected by the fires," said Winch.

Winch worked with the Florida Parks Service for five years. Now she works in environmental outreach and prescribed burns for Hillsborough County's Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department.

Winch is proud of what she does and says she's especially proud to be a woman in the field.

"It was a real blessing getting to work with some of the women out there, it’s really nice to see so many women in the fire world and I hope that is something that continues into the future," she said.

Winch doesn't describe herself as a role model and protector, but her actions do.

"Knowing that the people I work with and myself were able to maybe save someone's home, maybe even save somebody's life, that makes me really happy," said Winch.