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Before me at the Allison Avenue La Mesa Fire Department on June 8 were two giant blocks of butter sculpted into a fire helmet and and a fireman’s boot. Fitting, since I was at a pancake breakfast fundraiser.

“One of the captains did that. He’s very artistic,” a twentysomething firefighter told me, his sunglasses perched on his head. “Last year, he sculpted a fire hydrant, so he wanted to top himself.”

The breakfast marked the eighth time the La Mesa Fire Department has turned on the grill to cook for the community.

For $5 per person, diners got two pancakes, scrambled eggs, and two sausage links, along with orange juice, coffee, syrup, salsa and, of course, butter.

“I scraped my butter off from the bottom of the shoe,” La Mesa resident Ron Ennis told a friend.

“We are probably serving 1500 meals today,” according to public information officer Sonny Saghera. “We started at 8 a.m. and there’s been a constant line.”

The money raised from the breakfast will be donated to the Burn Institute and to MDA; some were hoping to set a record.

“It’s bigger than a few years ago,” fire department employee Heather Moore Sheppard said offhand. “I think this means the economy’s improving.”

The pancakes definitely looked home-cooked — not perfectly round, some with rough edges from being quickly picked up and thrown onto a serving plate — but they were good.

A couple dozen firefighters were at the breakfast, some cooking food, some serving food, and others engaging with the kids climbing on the fire trucks.

One firefighter was showing how to use the CPR dummies.

Stacy Evans had a personal reason for coming.

“One of the firefighters delivered my daughter Katie at our house,” she said. “She was the first baby anyone at the department had delivered so when we come here, they treat her like a celebrity.”

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