Utah family hopes firefighter battling California wildfires makes it home for Christmas

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah - Nick Herzog usually works 48 hour shifts and then comes home, but since Dec. 7, he has been deployed to California with West Valley City Fire, to help fight the wildfires.

First they worked on the Lilac Fire. Once that was contained, they moved on to the Thomas Fire.

"We have mostly been cleaning up hot spots and just making sure that those hot spots do not rekindle and start off another fire due to the winds that have been going on around here," Nick Herzog said.

He and other firefighters from Utah said it is not easy, but it is the right thing to do, and families like Herzog's are behind him all the way.

"It`s just day by day. We take it one day at a time so, especially with three little ones it can get a little bit crazy, but they get excited to hear that their dad`s out there helping people, too and helping fight the fires," Herzog's wife, Lucy said.

Four-year-old Jordan and 2-year-old twins Carly and Landon want their dad to come home for Christmas, and if all goes according to plan, he should be home by at least Dec. 21.

"Right now it`s kind of a tough time to be away from home, you know, especially when you`re out on a tour for two weeks," Nick Herzog said. "It can be a tough time to be away from your kids in a holiday season, but things have gone well."

Meanwhile, Lucy is holding down the fort at home, keeping the kids busy, but it has been a little difficult.

Lucy was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent surgery and is keeping up with her doctors appointments, all while running errands and prepping for Christmas. She said she has gotten a lot of support from her and Nick's parents, as well as friends and other firefighters' families.

It was hard for Nick to leave, but Lucy said it is the best timing it could have been. He was there for her when she needed it, and now he's there for the people in California who need him.

"He wanted to make sure that we would be taken care of but he also wanted to go help out there because he knew that it was such a big need out there."

Nick works 24 hour shifts - that's 24 on, and 24 off. In his down time he tries his best to keep in touch.

"I'm able to FaceTime with the kids and the family at home, but it is definitely not the same as being able to be there with your kids, to hug them, tuck them in at night, and tell them goodnight," he said.

Like many firefighter families, they are making it work. The laughter and fun the kids still have makes it a little easier.