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Fill The Boot Nets Cash
In between multiple calls for service over a busy weekend, Escalon firefighters hosted their annual 'Fill the Boot' drive at the intersection of Highway 120/McHenry Avenue/Escalon-Bellota Road from Friday though Sunday.

The effort kicked off at mid-afternoon on Friday and firefighters were staged at the four corners of the intersection for much of the day both Saturday and Sunday.

"We feel good," Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro said of the fund drive, which raises money for the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento. "It may not add up to what we've done in the past but people were as generous as they could be."

Pinheiro and other fire department members were busy on Tuesday morning counting the donations. A final total was not available at press time.

All money collected goes to the Burn Institute for programs and services provided to burn victims and their families, ranging from education, treatment, prevention information and summer camp opportunities.

Usually staged during the Presidents' Day weekend holiday, Escalon postponed it then due to a large storm system coming in. Pinheiro said they felt they would have a better chance of manning the collection points if they weren't responding to a number of weather-related calls. The weather was better this weekend, but Pinheiro said the department was still busy.

"We left about four times on Saturday and we left twice on Sunday, once for a non-injury accident and once for a one-acre grass fire on the Barton Ranch that took us a while to put out," Pinheiro explained. "It had a definite impact, when you have to pull guys off of where they were collecting ... but the calls for service are a priority."

Still, much of the traffic that rolled through during the weekend had the chance to donate and Pinheiro said they were pleased with the response.

Fire Chief Rick Mello said he felt the effort was a success and said the department had not received any complaints about the firefighters with their turnout boots in hand collecting funds from motorists.

Pinheiro said nearly everyone in the department took part at some point over the weekend, from paid personnel to volunteers to the reserves.