Coming Together to Care for One of Their Own

By Lisa Morgan

There are a special few who are the very essence of the word HERO. These are the people who are the first to run into the danger we as individuals, a city, a county, a state or a country face – our soldiers, our police force and, of course, our fire fighters. But there is another group of lionhearted individuals, quite unsung, who show this same kind of character and courage daily. These are the ones without whom, many of our first responders would have no safe place to find comfort, a strong shoulder or the love, support and purpose to push on in these extremely difficult and underpaid professions. These heroes are the first responder wives. Most recently, one such group of local women, collectively known as the California Fire Wives, came together to help one of their own deal with every fire-wife’s nightmare; the loss of her firefighter on duty.

Right on the heels of losing fellow firefighters, originally from Riverside County, who were part of the number of Hot Shots who perished in the Colorado fires, CDF Local 2881 was further saddened to announce that their own, CAL FIRE Engineer/Paramedic Christopher Douglas had been fatally injured the morning of July 5th. Douglas died from injuries sustained after being hit by a car while working along eastbound Interstate 10 in Thousand Palms. The CAL FIRE / Riverside County Fire Department fire engine was on Interstate 10 near Monterey Ave, when Douglas was struck by a passing vehicle. Douglas, age 41, was an eight-year veteran of CAL FIRE who had previously served in the United States Air Force. He was survived by his wife, Amy, their two-year-old son and their unborn child, due in February of next year. Her fellow fire-wives rushed to her support.

Krystal Lathrop, spokesperson, fellow fire-wife and co-founder of California Fire Wives (also known as CFW) shared how they came together. “When Chris Douglas died, his wife Amy, their son and unborn son needed assistance. Many of us jumped right on it to help. For weeks we offered support, food for her family, diapers and whatever else was needed. It was like great minds thinking alike because somewhere during this process, five of us girls got together and decided we should do this for everyone. We made the decision to form a non-profit organization so that anytime someone was in need of assistance whether it be an on the line of duty death, extreme sickness or maybe even childcare, we could be there for them. A lot of us came out of pocket to help Amy, and we enjoyed doing it. But we thought, if we could form an organization, we could get outside donations and be ready in case, God forbid, something else happened. We are not official yet because the filing fees alone, to become a non-profit, is around $800. So we are in the process of trying to raise funds to make us official. Once we are up and running, we will have fundraisers for our fund.”


“I am developing a web page, Facebook page and Twitter account, in hopes to connect fire wives with each other, form friendships and bonds that no one else can possibly understand. Being a fire wife is a daily worry when our husbands are on duty. We needed a place to vent, to be supported and to be there for each other in a time of need. Now, three months later many of us have formed lifetime friendships and bonds. It’s incredible.”

These compassionate, courageous women continue their efforts to support their sister, Amy Douglas led by fire-wife, Monica O’Neal. This Saturday morning, September 14th, they will be holding a Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s in La Quinta on Washington Avenue from 8am – 10am. This event is open to the public. Plates are $10 each with $5 of every plate going directly to Amy Douglas and her children. Another fundraiser will be held at the Applebee’s in Hemet on September 22nd.

Krystal and fellow fire-wives hope to become a legitimate non-profit soon. “If anyone is interested in donating to our fund or donating to help us get the organization off the ground, we have a Paypal account set up for those donations:” says Lathrop. “We just need donors to indicate in the message box whether it’s for our non-profit start-up or for our cause. We do not have a tax ID number yet, because we haven’t been able to file due to lack of funds.”

Donations may also be made on his memorial page: