U.P. native shares personal and professional experience with California wildfires

Local News

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. (WJMN) – Paul Tomasi is a Marquette native. He has lived in California for about the past 34 years.

“I enlisted in the Army in 1986 right after high school and I was stationed at Fort Ord, California which is about five miles north of where I am right now,” said Tomasi.

Now, he is the Chief of Police of a small beach city called Carmel-by-the-Sea.

With the continuing wildfires in California, it’s impacted Tomasi in different ways.

“Part of my job actually, we live in a very forested community,” said Tomasi. “We live everyday with the risk of fire here and with the recent lightning strikes that caused fires in California, our community is concerned about their safety and the ability to get out and be notified, should we get a fire here. So really, the last week, week and a half, I’ve been spending reassuring our community that we are ready. We can notify them, how they can be prepared and how they can plan for a possible fire.”

The fires have also impacted his personal life.

“My wife and family and I, we were evacuated because of a fire that was rapidly moving towards our house and our housing development area,” said Tomasi. “We had to pack up and get out as quickly as possible and we were displaced for six days.”

View from Paul Tomasi’s home

Tomasi says his home was fortunate enough to not have any damage.

“Some of our friends did have damage and even some of our friends completely lost their homes in the area not in our development, but down the road a little bit from us,” said Tomasi.

Although, Tomasi knows all too well what it’s like to be in their shoes.

“19 years ago, my wife and I when we pulled home, pulled into our driveway our house was on fire,” said Tomasi. “We know what it’s like to lose everything and not have anything left except for what you’re wearing. That’s a tough deal. You have to try to recover and it takes time and it’s a lot emotional scars too because you do lose those things that you can’t get back.”

To be helping his community in this way as a leader is something Tomasi says he likes to do.

“Well it’s a challenge,” said Tomasi. “You want to make sure you’re getting your message across. You want to keep people calm but yet, keep them prepared. It’s something I enjoy. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed is taking on that leadership role and leading people.”

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