Neil Diamond Does Surprise Concert for Firefighters Battling Colorado's Lake Christine Blaze

Playing Neil Diamond Comes Out of Retirement to Serenade Colorado Firefighters

Neil Diamond has come out of retirement to do a private concert for firefighters battling the massive Lake Christine blaze in Colorado.

The entertainer lives nearby and said he wanted to personally thank the folks who have the fire 72 percent contained after it scorched more than 12,000 acres and prompted mass evacuations since it began July 3.

Diamond has lived in the area for decades and came to Basalt High School Friday night to play fan favorite "Sweet Caroline" to firefighters and their families.

"I love these faces," Diamond said. "I want to take you all home. I want to give you a kiss. I want to make dinner for you. I just want to say thank you from the people of this area … I've been here for 20 years, and you made everybody happy. The heaviness on our hearts is gone … We thank you for making the trip and to our local guys as well."

Diamond, 77, announced his retirement in January, after divulging he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The longtime entertainer said he was retiring at his doctor's advice and was canceling his 50th anniversary tour.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring,” Diamond said in a statement at the time. “I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.”

The Colorado inferno has drawn more than 1,500 firefighters from 39 states. As of Friday, local authorities announced, the cost of battling the blaze totaled $3.8 million.

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