California National Guard providing aid for North Bay Fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Members of the California National Guard are used to being called to help out at disaster scenes like the North Bay Fires. But, they are not used to almost becoming victims themselves.

National Guard Lt. Colonel Chris Angle was on the phone as the fires were growing last weekend, calling police in Sacramento to get a handle on just how bad things were.

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"And that's when the knock came at my door and we realized we were in danger of the fire" said Angle.

He quickly called Captain Kevin Aguirre - who lives nearby - and told him to get out.

"Outside of our house we could see the horizon, it was orange. I believe that was the Coffey Park location," said Angle.

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Santa Rosa's Coffey Park area was devastated by fire. But, the two officers quickly evacuated their wives and kids to the safest place they could think of, The National Guard Armory where they work. But, Angle says there was a problem.

"It turns out we were still in the evacuation zone initially," said Angle. Both men sent their families to stay with relatives outside the fire zone.

Angle took command of his 579th Engineer Battalion, which is reinforced with soldiers from outside the region and outside the state.

"We've been assisting with search and rescue, with decontamination procedures, guarding evacuation shelters and helping with various logistics at the emergency operations center," said Angle.

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If there's time, here is a list of essentials to take with you during a wildfire evacuation. Above all else, follow the instructions given and get out of harm's way.

"My guys are doing really well, they want to be out here, they want to be in the fight and they are professionals," said Captain Aguirre.

Fortunately, the fire never reached their neighborhood, and the officer's families are moving back in on Wednesday.

There are still 772 guardsmen on duty in the fire zone - many of the out of Towner's bunking here in the armory after long hours on the job.

They get the boss' highest compliment. "They are the bravest people I've ever seen!"

Click here for full coverage of the North Bay fires.
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