Following 60-hour shift, SJ firefighter rushes to Santa Rosa to save family home of girlfriend

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Following 60-hour shift, firefighter rushes to save home
After a 60-hour shift, one South Bay firefighter ended up racing to Santa Rosa to help save the home of his girlfriend's parents.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- As wildfires rage across California, there's no question many firefighters are being pushed to the limit.

One South Bay firefighter ended up racing to Santa Rosa to help save the home of his girlfriend's parents.

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"I started my shift on Friday- my normal 48-hour shift. Then on Sunday, San Jose had to send out resources for some of the South Bay fires, as well as other fires that were popping up throughout the state," San Jose firefighter, Grant Newnom told ABC7 News. "So, I got held over and my shift turned into a 60-hour shift."

Newnom said he was released at 9 p.m. Sunday evening. He started his drive back home, to Napa.

"As I was driving home, my girlfriend called and said that there was a fire that was threatening her parents' home," he explained.

In video shared by Grant Newnom, viewers can hear him say, "Alright guys, here's your gate," as he takes a left turn into an east Santa Rosa community.

Late Sunday night, Newnom was immediately met by flames and he knew he had to act quickly.

"I drove straight up to their house, and I was just going to hang out and triage it," he said. "Basically move anything flammable away from it, cut down what trees I could."

Newnom still had his gear in his car, coming off that 60-hour shift in the South Bay.

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Referring to his drive into Santa Rosa, he said, "If it wasn't people's homes burning, you were hearing propane tanks going off and just seen large mushroom clouds go off at the same time."

Soon enough, he said Santa Rosa Fire Engine 3 arrived at the house as well.

"We all geared up and put down some hose lines. The fire front came up over the hill, and it was quite the battle- embers, high winds," Newnom added. "The fire was crowning in the trees and spot fires 50-yards in front."

Newnom says Engine 3 fought as if they were working to save their own homes. He said after a hand shake and a simple, "Thank you," they were off to the next scene.

He said he considers Engine 3 the true heroes.

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No doubt, those on the fiery front lines haven't had much time to rest with resources spread thin.

In another video shared by Newnom, strong winds are heard before he says, "Alright, I've got to get out of here because it's raining ash."

Dangerous conditions continue to fuel California wildfires.

"Last year, that was the worst one. Then it's, 'The next year is the worst one.' And then it's just, it's incredible," Newnom shared. "And almost scary to think, well, if this is this year, what does next year hold."

In the end, he said his girlfriend's parents' home is still standing.

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As residents return to see what remains, there are some very specific safety precautions to keep in mind.

"There's little minor accessory buildings that got burnt down, and they have a new- I'll call it landscaping of a moonscape. But I mean, it's there," Newnom added. "They were very fortunate that they had the egress that engine was looking for. Because a lot of those homes that are tucked up in there, it's very hard to get a full-sized fire engine all the way up in there to defend those homes."

Newnom said next on his to-do list is getting cleaned, eating, and taking a nap.

"I would feel bad if I didn't do anything," he said about his efforts. "And I can always catch up on sleep."

Get the latest updates and videos on wildfires burning across the Bay Area here.

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