Calif. FF faces 'absolute nightmare' defending home after 60-hour shift

Firefighter Grant Newnom battled flames from the Glass Fire that threatened his girlfriend's parents' home Sunday night


Don Sweeney
The Sacramento Bee

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Firefighter Grant Newnom’s regular 48-hour shift had been extended to 60 hours by the wildfires burning across California, but he was finally headed home Sunday night, KGO reported.

Then his girlfriend called, The Press Democrat reported. The fast-growing Glass Fire threatened the east Santa Rosa home of her parents. Could he do anything to help?

Homes leveled by the Glass Fire line a street in the Skyhawk neighborhood of Santa Rosa, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Firefighter Grant Newnom defended his girlfriend's parents' Santa Rosa home from the blaze after finishing an extended 60-hour shift on Sunday. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Homes leveled by the Glass Fire line a street in the Skyhawk neighborhood of Santa Rosa, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Firefighter Grant Newnom defended his girlfriend's parents' Santa Rosa home from the blaze after finishing an extended 60-hour shift on Sunday. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Intending to stop off and make sure nothing flammable was close to the house on his way to his own Napa Valley home, Newnom drove past scenes of destruction in Santa Rosa.

“If it wasn’t people’s homes burning, you were hearing propane tanks going off and just seeing large mushroom clouds go off at the same time,” said Newnom, a firefighter in San Jose, KGO reported.

By the time he pulled up to the house of his girlfriend’s parents, Newnom could see the flames drawing closer, The Press Democrat reported. Then a Santa Rosa fire engine arrived.

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

Despite the “absolute nightmare,” which Newnom said was “unlike anything that I’ve personally seen,” he and the Santa Rosa firefighters saved the house, although some outbuildings were lost, The Press Democrat reported.

“They were absolutely fantastic,” Newnom said, according to the publication.

Then, with a simple “thank you,” the fire engine rumbled away to battle another part of the fire, KGO reported. Newnom said he considers the Santa Rosa firefighters the true heroes of the fight that night.

“I would feel bad if I didn’t do anything,” Newnom said, according to the station. “And I can always catch up on sleep.”

The 36,000-acre Glass Fire continues to threaten Santa Rosa and the Napa Valley, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.

The wildfire, which began Sunday morning, has 0% containment, according to Cal Fire. Several Napa Valley wineries and resorts have been damaged or destroyed in the blaze.

The Glass Fire has destroyed 80 homes and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate, including the entire town of Calistoga, The Sacramento Bee reported.

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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