Fireman Grant Newnom had just finished a 60-hour shift fighting the glass fire in Northern California when he learned that his girlfriend’s childhood home was in the way of the fire. He decided to protect it himself.
Elise Jones watched through a surveillance camera on Sunday night as Newnom, 34, worked to keep the fire at bay.
“You could see embers flying in the wind and everywhere,” said Jones. “You just say, ‘Yes, these are flames. My mother cried a lot. She was just very worried about him. “
Her two children, parents, and her brother̵
Newnom fought for hours to put out the fires that threatened the house. Four firefighters from the Santa Rosa division joined him.
“I go around the house and put out embers on the roof because it just blows embers and they just ricochet off the house, ricochet off the roof, ricochet everywhere,” Newnom said. “And there were a couple of times during the burn that I think wow, OK, we might lose this thing.”
The house was surrounded by flames “360 degrees around,” Jones said. But it did not damage Newnom and the four other Santa Rosa firefighters.
As soon as the house was determined to be safe, the other firefighters left and Newnom put out the remaining flames with a garden hose. “It’s a much slower operation,” joked Newnom.
Jones, 35, was at her parents’ house earlier in the day when they received an evacuation text. Newnom urged her to take it seriously and they evacuated from the line of fire to her brother’s house.
The fire was known as the Shady Fire when it threatened House Sunday, but it has since been merged with the glass fire that lit overnight on Sunday in Napa Valley and burned through vineyards, resorts and homes. It has grown to nearly 60,000 acres and has destroyed more than 250 buildings and damaged 144 others.
More than 20 fires are raging in the state.
Fires across the state have killed 30 people since the unprecedented fire season began.
California witnessed the largest devastating fire in state history, burning more than 3.7 million acres across the state, much of it in Northern California, where one of the driest winters ever occurred.
Jones is fortunate that her parents’ house was spared and that she could see the fight for the rescue live on the surveillance camera.
“It was very, not peaceful, but helpful to watch what was going on and get answers almost immediately,” she said.