Neil Diamond thanks firefighters battling Colorado wildfire with surprise performance

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of FameTimes haven’t been good for those in the path of the Lake Christine Fire in Colorado, but legendary musician Neil Diamond reached out to thank firefighters Saturday with a surprise concert. Diamond performed acoustically for a couple hundred firefighters and rescue personnel, many of whom came to the area specifically to fight the fire, during a town hall.

“I want to take you all home, I want to give you a kiss, I want to make dinner for you, and I just want to say thank you from the people of this area for coming down and this town has not been this happy since…I don’t know,” Diamond told the crews before his performance. “I’ve been here for 20 years and you’ve made everybody happier. The heaviness on our hearts is gone and we know the cavalry is here and we say thank you to each of you for making this trip.”

Firefighters have swung the fight against the Lake Christine Fire in their favor recently. The fire, which has burned over 12,500 acres, is now 48 percent contained.

The U.S. Forestry Service also says it expects to have the fire fully contained by August 2.

Diamond lives in the Basalt, Colorado, area, where the fire is still burning, after it started on July 3.

“We’re gonna thank everyone for saving our community,” Diamond’s wife, Katie, said before he launched into a version of his most famous song, “Sweet Caroline.” The crowd, of course, sang along.

Basalt is in a popular skiing area, just a few miles from Snowmass and less than 20 miles northwest of Aspen.

Diamond, 77, announced his retirement from touring in January after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He’s a member of both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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