REDDING, Calif. — Many hotels in the Redding area are just now getting back to normal after weeks of being packed with fire crews and Carr Fire evacuees.
For the Best Western Plus Hilltop Inn, however, the chance to give back during the disaster was more important than the money coming in.
Several employees explained what it meant to them to help support the crews and community every day.
"It was a real revealing moment I think for the community. I know my staff got really into their jobs about helping people," said Ed Rullman, Partner and General Manager Best Western Plus Hilltop Inn and C.R. Gibbs.
As the Carr Fire burned toward Redding, the Best Western Plus Hilltop Inn quickly filled with fire crews and evacuees seeking rest and refuge.
"We probably had as many as 60 or 70 firefighter rooms and 20 to 30 evacuee rooms," said Rullman.
To the point where they had to call guests with reservations, coming in from out of town, to ask them to give up their rooms to those who really needed it.
"I don't think we had any negative comments from customers when we called and told them that. And a few people even said ' you know what I've already paid for my reservation. Give that to somebody that needs it.'"
Instead of taking advantage of the moment, Rullman looked for any way they could to give back; including discounted rooms, free meals delivered to the shelters and even housing their own staff.
Brett Miller is just one of the employees who stayed at the hotel while evacuated, surrounded by firefighters and evacuees.
"That was a really emotional week talking with everyone. Hearing stories of being on the line, you know. Hearing how dangerous it was and how tough it was for them to even get a grip on the fire. And then just talking to the people who evacuated and lost their homes and other evacuees," said Miller.
The combination created a very special bond he won't soon forget.
"You know, it was kind of time for us to come together and just we were all one."