Wildcats Give Back: A Ukiah High Alumni Fights NorCal Fires


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By Izabella Nickerson

Ukiah High alumni Chase Dunken grew up in Ukiah and dreamt of becoming a firefighter. He remembered on his third birthday when a fire engine came to his party, he began to look up to the profession. Now, he is working to stop the fires that are burning in Northern California.

At age thirteen, he started fire explorers with Redwood Valley Fire and entered the profession at the age of eighteen.  Through his years at Ukiah High, Dunken says that Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Fragoza helped him train and inspired him to become a firefighter. He got his basic fire training at Mendocino College, and now works for Cal Fire, the state of California’s fire fighting agency. He described loving his job and enjoys working with his coworkers who have become like family. 

The burnt landscape of one of the areas Dunken has worked as a firefighter [Photograph from Chase Dunken]

Dunken describes the feeling of providing homeowners a symbol of hope by protecting their properties. He said that there is nothing about his job that he does not love. When he and his crew are not out fighting fires, Dunken said they do a lot of working out, training, and station maintenance. 

Dunken said his normal work shift is 72 hours and right now he is on a 12-day straight shift due to a large number of fires in northern California. He said his goal is to one day become a fire chief before he retires.

Izzy Nickerson
Izzy Nickerson
Izabella Nickerson is an editor and chief for the UHS newspaper and a Junior at Ukiah High School. Izabella enjoys playing sports like tennis and volleyball, baking/cooking, and being outdoors. Izabella is creative and hardworking doing her part to make the UHS newspaper informative and entertaining. Izabella has been a part of the UHS news team for 3 years. She enjoys writing about the sports that students participate in at Ukiah High School as well as articles addressing women's rights and more. She would like to continue Journalism and make a career out of it. Becoming a sports journalist or a sports broadcaster.


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