Sarah Hawkins, Flames, San Francisco discussed on Morning Edition
Edition from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep in Washington and I'm David Greene in Los Angeles. The devastation in California from deadly wildfires is historic. So far this year, thousands of wildfires have devoured More than a million and a half acres, an area more than three times larger than Los Angeles where I am the LMU Lightning complex fire is now the second largest in the state's history. And the Flames did not spare. Andy Piston is home. He's a 23 year veteran with the South San Francisco Fire Department. He spent decades saving other people's homes, Pestana Lost everything as he put it last Wednesday, his farm his home many of his animals, but he and his wife are safe. And he and his wife, Sarah Hawkins, joined me on the line from Winter's California about an hour northeast of San Francisco. Thank you both for taking some time for us. I can't imagine what you've been through. Thank you for having us. Oh, Andy, I want to start with you. I mean, as I said, you've been a firefighter for 23 years. Your own property now hard hit by this fire. Just talk to me about this fire of you ever battled anything like it? I have not. And not many people that couldn't say that they've battled in fires or been in fires or experience fires. Of such size and magnitude. And at the speed that this moved seemed unprecedented. Well, yeah, I mean, talk to Andy. You at home asleep in off duty. When when it came to your property. I mean, can you take me to the moment when you realize that that it was this out of control? We actually received multiple phone calls back to back from our neighbor and they lost everything also, but they called us woke us up and said, Hey, We've been given notification from their son who is a local firefighter, that it's bad. Get up. I went outside and did a quick assessment of what I could see. And I could see The ridge line two behind US. All a glow and we're talking miles and miles of Miles from my right to my left. As I looked out the back door, I hurried in and woke up, Sarah, we quickly got trust through a few things and bangs. Made sure we had identification with us on a little bit of money and made sure that cars were pointed out. I then went out to kind of assess what was going on. Based on my training and years of service, saying What am I seeing on DH? I've never seen a fire front of that size coming towards office. We've had fires back there in the past. Then it seemed like everything changed. The winds picked up It turned 90 degrees on us. Instead of coming out of the west. It came out of the north. He and Sarah had joined me to kind of just see what was going on. And by that time we turned around and realized there was a flaming front coming behind us. Who from our north and it was going to flank our exit. We ran for the cars and we got out of there with flames. Close enough that I had to get in on the passenger side of the truck instead of the driver's side because it was too much fire on that side of the car to get in, and we Got out. It just came so quick. No. I'm so Believe that you two are safe. Sarah have what was going through your mind? I mean, did you feel like you're going to get out of there somehow? Well, it was pure adrenaline when we had gone out, Tio Assess where the flames were coming from where the fire was coming, and all of a sudden, just hear this roar from the north. It was kind of shocking that it was coming so fast and that the flames were as high as they were. They should not have been that high on and it was like we got to go and I Brandon the house and grab the dog and Just I had to literally throw her into the car because she was so panicked at the flames and just Get out. Have you been able to assess what you've lost and what condition the properties in We've lost everything. But our barn all of our farming equipment, our greenhouse the house, the house is just a six inch layer of crumbled drive all and shattered tile. And we lost. All of our junior does that we were retaining and the's the goat you're talking about. I mean, your your prize breeders Way should say Sir. What did those goats mean to you? You know, I've worked really hard on My breeding program, and every year we have babies and a bottle feed all of them so that they'll be friendly and I know all of them. I know all of their names I delivered All of them there. It's It's not just a place. Obviously, Sarah, this is your livelihood and your business. And already we were in a pandemic in a faltering economy. I mean, have you even begun to think about how you move forward and what's next now? Just barely. You spend an hour two. Just looking through, Um, shirts at a donation place and like shoes and supplies. We don't You know, we have a couple of T shirts and we have a couple of pairs of shorts. There's so much to Dio Just regarding the house, burning down and trying to figure out next steps because there's not really much of a handbook on what to expect. When you're houses burned down. Where the two of you now, I mean, I take it you're safe now. Yeah, We're currently staying with a friend. One of my best friends. People ask if we're safe and we're like we are safe. Now, you know, and we do have a place to stay for now, but we can't stay here for six months. India. Are you going to go back into the fight these fires again soon or you going to get some time away to deal with what's out of my department. My department was gracious enough to Extend as much time as I need it. I was able to take vacation for Immediate to her after it happened. But yes, I will be going back to work. Soon enough, and we'll be there for the public as a protectorate in 22 years in the fire department another eight years before that on the ambulances, So I've been serving the public for over 31 years on the whole continue until Retirement sometime in the near future. Andy Kristanna and Sarah Hawkins. I'm just glad you two are together and safe on DH. No, we'll be thinking about you. Thank you. Thank you so much..