On Sunday, June 3, 2018, Fire Station #2 in Jocotenango, Guatemala received the call about a national emergency caused by the eruption of Fuego. Among the first-responders was Mario Charuc, operator of their Living Waters for the World water purification system.
Mario Charuc, water system operator for Fire Station #2 in Jocotenango
Mario’s typical job was to produce and deliver clean water in the community. But on June 3, he was called to serve as rescue crew. Mario is one of only 150 people trained by the Municipal Firefighter’s National Association (ASONBOMD) to volunteer as rescue crew for the country of Guatemala. He and other rescuers from Fire Station #2 set out to find people in the volcano’s area of impact.
“The heat was indescribable, more than 176 Fahrenheit. It was like nothing we ever experienced before,” he said. They could not stay inside the homes for more than 5 minutes. They had to carry wood to step on otherwise their boots would melt.
The rescue crew from Fire Station #2 in Jocotenango, Guatemala
Lajas road leads to Rodeo Village - the village that was affected the most by the volcano.
After Fuego erupted, the need for clean water increased. So, while serving as rescue crew, Mario also expanded his water delivery to shelters for the evacuated people. You could tell by talking to him that he really cared for people, and he did not expect anything in return. He felt honored to be able to serve his country.
Mario was one of many people who helped in the rescue effort in every way they could. Luis Aragon, director of the fire station, coordinated the rescue effort from his wheelchair, and the rescue crew endured the heat and ash to aid the people affected by the volcano. Even after rescuing many children – some of whom were the only survivors in their family – the rescuers still felt that their help was so little compared to the magnitude of the disaster.
Mario cleans a 5 gallon water bottle before filling
Despite moments of discouragement, they were able to provide significant help for many families, including the Marroquin Zamora family. In the family are parents Joel Marroquin and Lidia Zamora, grandmother Anita López (Joel’s mother), and 3 kids Claudia, Marvin, and Osman Marroquin.
Members of the Marroquin Zamora family
The family was evacuated from their home on June 3. They were scared when they heard they needed to leave and were unable to take anything with them. They went to a shelter for two days, but when they heard about the firefighters at the station in Jocotenango they thought they might be able to find help there. Doña Anita had distant relatives in Jocotenango, so she went to ask for help. Pedro Garcia, the treasurer of the fire station’s water committee, was able to host them at his home. They are waiting there to see what the future brings to them.
For now, the kids are not in school. Pedro’s home is far away from it, and they don’t have the resources to pay the bus fare to get there. Many of their classmates are either dead or missing. It is a difficult time for the family, and for so many others, but they are grateful for the fire station and their hospitality.
Fire Station #2 has supported numerous families with food, water, and clothing. God is their motivation, so they help the people that they can and pray for all the people they cannot completely help. They have been supported by many local people who dropped everything to jump in and help their Guatemalan brothers and sisters. A disaster of this magnitude invites many questions, but what I am sure of is that God is in control, and he is using this natural disaster to unify people. People from all around the world are thinking of Guatemala and are being reminded that we are here in this world to support and love each other.