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The Wood Angels deliver firewood during a winter storm | NorCal Strong

Firewood is the primary source of heat in Amador County. So when the needy run low on their supply, the Wood Angels come to their rescue.

PIONEER, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to the Wood Angels.

When the snow falls in the foothills of Amador County, the strong men and women of Pioneer, Calif., go to work. Winter storms in this rural area often knock out power, leaving the community’s retired population in the cold. Firewood is the primary source of heat around these parts, so when the needy run low on their supply, the Wood Angels come to their rescue. 

“We have to heat homes. The community expects us to do that,” Wood Angel President Ryan Gillaspie said.

Built on the backs of loggers, first responders and good Samaritans, the Wood Angels respond to heating emergencies throughout Amador County by delivering firewood, even if it means cutting down old dead trees to do it. 

“We will chop roughly 300 cords of wood, which will heat 600 homes,” Gillaspie said.

Gillaspie took over the Wood Angels in 2015. Since then, he and about 30 volunteers have stopped at nothing to help those who need firewood. Like many of their clients, the Wood Angels operate on a shoestring budget. Fuel costs, chainsaws and mechanical breakdowns often come out of the pockets of these blue-collar volunteers, but when the Wood Angels really need help, it’s the community who come to their rescue.

“When we need a tow truck, [or] if we need a gravel truck, our mechanic Patriot Diesel, they do it for us for free,” Gillaspie said.

In the Foothills of Amador County, neighbors are helping neighbors make the Wood Angels NorCal Strong.  

"Weather, high water, storms, it doesn’t matter, we’re going to make it happen," Gillaspie said. 

If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian, send us a text at 916-321-3310 and put "NorCal Strong" in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.