Southeastern PA

Man hopes to continue streak of volunteering for wildfires

'Red Cross stuff is in my bags'

Man hopes to continue streak of...

SPRING CITY, Pa. - The sights coming out of southern California are otherworldly; more than 100,000 acres are being torched by wildfires. The images are so stunning, many have said they've seen nothing like it, but one local American Red Cross volunteer has seen something like this before, just about a year ago.

"Last year, I went out there," said Joseph Jackson. "It was worse than this. We had thousands of people in shelters."

Jackson, of Spring City, Chester County, was sent out with the Red Cross last year to wildfires that altogether torched more than a half-million acres across California. In fact, he's been responding to disasters with the Red Cross for 24 years.

"I stopped counting after 50 national disasters. I don't even know, between 50 and 70," he said.

He's 82 years old, but he's more willing than ever to help.

"Amen. Wholeheartedly want to do it. Itching to do it," Jackson said.

He said his itch to help others came from a near-death experience in Pennsylvania when he was about 40.

"I was pronounced dead from a motorcycle accident many years ago," Jackson said. "That was the gift I got from God, when I came back alive. I want to do something for somebody else."

The Red Cross's tri-county chapter said nobody's been dispatched to California yet, but that's expected to change. If or when Jackson gets the call, his bags are packed.

"Always. Red Cross stuff is in my bags," he said. "Shirts, everything. It stays packed. If they call me, at the moment I can jump up and get in my car and go there and leave my car at the airport and forget about it."

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