SAN FRANCISCO -- As California enters what could be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, an image is going viral that captures the exhaustion and the fatigue that firefighters are already feeling.
The photo shows Captain Justin Grunewald, a U.S. Forest Service hotshot, taking a break while battling the Willow Fire in Big Sur.
"One of the things that's been challenging here is that the terrain is so difficult to get to, even for the firefighters, that we were reliant on images from crews," Captain Thanh Nguyen, a Public Information Officer for the Willow Incident, told ABC7 News. "And we just happened to stumble on that one and it really paints a picture on what it's like to be out there."
The photo was taken by Captain Lincoln Peters who, along with Grunewald, works on the Mill Creek Hotshots Crew 4 from Southern California. Crews like theirs are tasked with doing some of the most grueling and challenging work that can lead to burnout.
"It's the beginning of the season, and we're seeing fire right now and the amount of acres burned so far that normally we see towards the end of the summer," Capt. Nguyen explained.
RELATED: How bad will the California fire season be? Here's what we know, what we don't
The image, which went viral on Twitter, is also a distressing and somber reminder that the fire season is only beginning and there are many dry and potentially dangerous months ahead.
"This image resonates with all of us who have been doing this. A lot of us are still trying to recover from the fatigue that we all cumulated from last years' fire season," Capt. Nguyen said.
"And the side of it is, we understand that the fatigue is not just for the firefighters but also the public, too, who are having to deal with this, especially if it's in their backyard," he continued. "So you know, the picture really struck a chord with a lot of people."
Take a look at the latest stories and videos about wildfires here in the Bay Area and across California.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation
- How to prepare your pets in case of disaster
- How to make a pet carrier in case of emergency
- Most destructive California wildfires in history
- The deadliest wildfires in California history
- Live: Track Bay Area air quality levels
- How are wildfires started? A look at the causes of some of the worst in California history
- The difference between containing and controlling a wildfire
- What's in wildfire smoke? How it can impact your health
- What are the diablo winds and how can they influence Northern California wildfires?
- What you need to know about Santa Ana winds and California wildfires
- Safety tips to remember when returning home after wildfire
- How to pick a mask for protection during a wildfire
- Red flag warning: What to do during dangerous fire conditions
- Everything to know about red flame retardant dropped during wildfires
- What happens to animals during wildfires?
- How to drive safely during a power outage
- How wildfires create a serious threat for flooding and mudflows
- These aircraft are on the front lines of the fight against California wildfires