CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — A Bay Area firefighter with ties to Ukraine is back home after traveling across the world to help those suffering during the Russian invasion.

“I think cinematic is a really good way to put it, because you can make anything seem real and when you go there it doesn’t seem real,” Contra Costa County firefighter Yuri Chlek said.

Chlek took these photos when he went on a volunteer relief mission to Ukraine less than a month ago.

“It’s a legitmate war zone. Some people are still trying to live there,” he said.

Chlek was born in the U.S. just four months after his family moved here from Ukraine.

He says both his older brothers were born in Ukraine and he still has cousins who live there.
Many of his friends and extended family in Ukraine say they never thought it would get this bad.

“It seems like everyone knew there was a potential threat but no one could really imagine that something like that would happen,” Chlek said.

As soon as the invasion began and Chlek saw photos of the buildings on fire. He knew he wanted to help. He joined a relief mission called, Task Force Joint Guardian, put together by San Diego firefighter Eric Hille.

He says the task force members delivered equipment and helped local firefighters clearing buildings, recovering bodies and medically training some of the Ukrainian fire staff.

Chlek says the group is planning another trip in July. He won’t be able to travel with them, but he is helping with their fundraising efforts through fund the first.