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FireWatch: Almeda Fire survivor recognized for his efforts to help others

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PHOENIX, Ore. -- September 8 marked one year since the Almeda fire tore through the city of Phoenix and Talent, leaving devastation in its path.

“I don't know how to put it into words. It's just, it's been ... it's been a whirlwind of a year after the Almeda Fire,” Mike Sandoval said.

Sandoval is a retired firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service. Now he works as a full-time volunteer as well as raising two teenagers.

“The kids and I, after our home burned down, we were in a hotel for a couple months,” Sandoval said.

Now Sandoval and his family are living in FEMA-supported housing in Medford.

“Now, we're trying to find a full-time housing in the area right now,” Sandoval said.

Today, with the help of the United Way and the Maslow Project, Mike was awarded a check for $500 as well as a certificate of appreciation for his efforts during the Almeda Fire.

“They went to the Expo, they helped evacuate Northridge Terrace, the assisted living facility. They also rescued some people from their upstairs apartment and got them to safety,” Kirstin Cronin said.

Cronin works as a case manager for the Maslow Project.

“He really puts everyone above himself. I've seen – firsthand,” Cronin added.

Sandoval added that the $500 dollars is huge for his family and his hoping to use some of the money to find more ways to give back to the community.

“We need to inspire our youth right now, reach them right now, whatever we can do to inspire the youth, motivate them and push them forward. It's incredible,” Sandoval said.