Meet Los Diablos: The Mexican Firefighters Who Chase the Flames Across the Border
Los Diablos primarily fight fires in the national park along the border in West Texas, but they also respond to emergencies across the United States - from battling fires in Yosemite National Park, to helping relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.
Known for their work ethic and their ability to traverse difficult terrain with relative ease, Los Diablos (Spanish for “The Devils”) have a reputation that precedes them.
“Other people get blisters on their feet. The Diablos don’t have these kinds of problems,” said Adrian Valdez Carello, a 40-year-old Diablo who has served on the fire crew since 1997.
Carello says his team of firefighters, which lives in the blistering hot Mexican states of Coahuila and Chihuahua, where temperatures sometimes top 120-degrees fahrenheit, can take the heat better than most.
“We don’t mind drinking hot water,” Carello told me. He says that’s because most of the homes in his community don’t have electricity, so cold water isn’t really a thing where they’re from.
Since Los Diablos are federal employees of the U.S. government, they all have social security cards and U.S. bank accounts, into which they can deposit their $17-20/hour salaries.
But here’s the rub. Most of the firefighters are not U.S. citizens and are only allowed to cross the border to help fight fires. But when there’s no smoke, there are no firemen. That makes more mundane activities such as banking and shopping nearly impossible for the Mexican men who risk their lives for our country.
Read the rest at Fusion
Photo: Sasha von Oldershausen
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