Daddy's little girl: Emotional reunion with 10-year-old and firefighting father
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. - An emotional homecoming was captured between a Bay Area firefighter and his daughter after he spent weeks helping on some of Northern California's devastating wildfires.
San Jose firefighter Josh Padron had been gone from home for a total of 27 days since mid-September.
He was off working the North Complex Fire for two weeks and then the August Complex Fire in Mendocino for another 13 days, with only two days home in between.
"Being away was hard," said Padron, who lives in San Juan Bautista, south of Gilroy, about a 45-minute drive from San Jose Fire House 16, where he is an engineer. "It really did impact my daughter."
But on Monday, Padron was released from his duties and he wanted to surprise his 10-year-old, Eliana.
He told his wife he'd be home in two hours, though his daughter thought his return would be in a few more days.
His wife had the cell phone video ready to go and when he walked in the door, Eliana leaped from the couch, her face in complete shock and disbelief.
"I really just missed him. I would cry to my mom and say, 'I miss him' and 'I want to go see him.' When he came home, it really surprised me," said Eliana Padron.
Padron said he knows how much Eliana loves him, but that hug "even made me tear up." His family posted the hug on Instagram to share the love with family and friends.
"I...was like..my dad's home. It just made me cry so much 'cause I'm like, I finally get to see my dad," said Eliana.
He said he wasn't the only firefighter likely getting a hug like that. Thousands of firefighters across California have been battling an unprecedented number of wildfires this season. And thousands are also returning home.
"It was such a priceless moment," he said. "We just happened to capture it."
KTVU's Jorge Bustos contributed to this report. This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.