'We've Lost Everything': California Wildfire Takes The Home Of A Veteran Firefighter
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 Stan Dana's home. He's a twenty three year veteran with the South San Francisco Fire Department. He spent decades saving other people's homes A-. Lost everything as he put it less Wednesday, his farm, his home, many of his animals but he and his wife are safe and he and his wife Sarah Hawkins join me on the line from winters 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. Anti I WANNA start with you, I mean as I said, you've been a firefighter for twenty three years your own property now, hard hit by this fire just talk to me about this fire if you've ever battled anything like. I have not in not many people can 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 move. Seemed unprecedented will yeah I mean talked to any Andy you at home asleep and off-duty when when it came your property and can you take me to the moment when you realize that it was this out of control? We actually received multiple phone calls back to back from our neighbor than they lost everything also, but they called US woke up and said Hey. We've been giving notification from their son who is a local firefighter that it's bad. Up I went outside and did a quick assessment of what I could see and I could see The Ridge linked to behind us. All aglow 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 dressed through a few things in bags. Made sure we had identification with us in a little bit of money in made sure the 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 and I've never seen a fire front of that size coming towards off sweep had fires back there in the past than it seemed like everything changed the winds picked up it turned ninety degrees on US instead of coming out of the West that came out of the north. and. The Sarah had joined me to kind of just see what was going on and by that time we turned around and realize there is a flaming front coming behind us. 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. Well. I'm so. Relieved that you tour safe? Sarah what. was going through your mind I mean, did you feel like you were going to get out of there somehow? Lows pure adrenaline when we had gone out to assess where the flames were coming from where the fire was coming and all of a sudden just hear this roar from the North was kind of shocking that it was coming so fast and the flames were as high as they were they should not have been that high. And it was like we gotta go and I ran in the house and grabbed 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 in what condition the properties in. We've lost everything. But our barn Oliver farming equipment, our greenhouse, the house, the house is just. A six inch layer of crumbled drywall and shattered tile. And We lost all of our Jeanne you're. does that we were retaining the GO-TO you're talking about him in Europe prize? Breeders? Should say. What are those goats mean to you? Have worked really hard on my breeding program and every year we have babies and I bottle feed all of them so that they'll be friendly and I know all of them I know all 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 already we were in a in a pandemic in a faltering economy I mean how have you even begun to think about how you move forward and what's next now? Just, barely spend an hour or two just looking through. 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 do. Just regarding the house burning down. and. Trying to figure out next steps because there's not really much of a handbook on. When you're houses burned down where the two of you know I take it you're safe now. Yeah. We're currently staying with a friend best friends people ask if we're safe and we're like, we are safe. Now you know we do have a place to stay for now, but we can't stay here for six months. India are you go back into to? Fight these fires again soon or are you going to get some time away to deal with? What's how might department? My Department was Gracious. Enough to. Extend, as much time as I needed I I was able to take vacation for the immediate tour after it happened. But? Yes. I will be going back to work. Soon enough and will be there for the public as a protector in. Twenty years in the fire department another eight years before that on ambulances. So I've been serving the public for over thirty one years and continuing until. Retirement sometime in the near future. Andy. And Sarah Hawkins I'm I'm just glad you two are together and safe and You know we'll be thinking about you. Thank you. Thank you so much.