Coburg Fire celebrates return of crews at annual Christmas party

Coburg Fire District Chief Chad Minter celebrates with his crew and their families at their annual Christmas party, Dec. 21, 2017. (SBG)

COBURG, Ore. -- The Coburg Rural Fire District held it's annual Christmas party Thursday night and the entire crew was home to celebrate it, including Fire Chief Chad Minter.

Earlier this month, we spoke with his wife, Mischelle, about the possibility of her husband being gone for Christmas: "It was rare for this to happen, so we didn't really know what to expect."

On December 5, Minter and his crew were sent down to Southern California to help fight the Thomas Fire - a rare call to be sent out of the state, and rare for this time of year.

"Obviously, their fire season does go long," Minter said, "we're just used to it ending in September, maybe October at the latest. But we were prepared and on the road and ready to save homes."

But the rest of the Minter family was preparing for Chad - a husband, father and grandfather - to be in another state for Christmas, preparing for him to miss his first grand child's first Christmas.

"Our kids even said they were going to hold Christmas," said Mischelle.

Minter and his crew spent two weeks away from home. "It's the longest I've been away from my family ever, since we've had a family, so, it's definitely different."

And even with cellphones, communication wasn't easy.

"There was a lot of times we were out of cell phone range and not able to communicate too," Chad said.

But one special phone call got through to Mischelle. Her husband was coming home.

"I was glad to see him back," she said, "I mean, I heard him on the phone saying he's coming back, but to see him actually step through the door was a good feeling."

Chad says he's happy the department could help protect neighborhoods in Sonoma County.

"You know, for me, families lose their homes around Christmas or around this time of year, lose their homes all the time... but to see thousands of people lose their homes - I think Sonoma was 8,900 structures - that's just unreal."

But he says he's also happy to be back home.

"We didn't want to miss any of the station events," Mintner said Thursday. "The Christmas party that we're having here and everything that we're having, so we did our job and made it back in time for everything, and all the family stuff."

"Yeah we're pretty happy," echoes Mischelle.

Chad says he hopes to catch up on a bunch of work so he can have Christmas day off.

Mischelle says she may have to work on Christmas day, but she's happy to know her husband is back in the same town as her and safe.

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