'If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be alive' Heroic CHP helicopter officers remember North Bay fires

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- Craig Dziedzic and his dog waited to say thank you again to helicopter officers that rescued them from Napa County's Atlas Peak.

But Dziedzic's rescuers perhaps expressed more excitement about meeting someone they helped escape a deadly inferno.

RELATED: The North Bay wildfires six months later

"They don't realize how big of a blessing it is for us to meet them," said Dziedzic.

Other first responders saluted CHP officers Pete Gavitte and Whitney Lowe at a forum in San Francisco.

Gavitte piloted the CHP helicopter through the darkness and smoke. Gavitte and Lowe kept returning to Atlas Peak despite turbulent winds jolting their helicopter flight after flight.

"So whenever there's a situation that we are able to help, that's what our first goal is going to be, to step in and make a difference, said Officer Whitney Lowe, a CHP flight officer and paramedic.

RELATED: In songwriting about the North Bay fires it's the simple things and everything

Gavitte and Lowe provided the difference between life and death. They made 26 rescued in seven hours.
Their efforts provided an escape path from the apocalypse after the area's only road became blocked.

Back in Oct., the Tamayo family got to thank Gavitte and Lowe personally. "Because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be alive right now," they said.

Others saved by Gavitte and Lowe have also stopped by the team's base at the Napa Airport to say thanks.

Both aviators thought of their own families while rescuing strangers from the horror of the wildfires.

"With the kind of people that we work with, it's an easy expectation that people would be doing the same exact thing that we did up on Atlas that night," Gavitte said.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the North Bay fires.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.