Firefighter loses Lake County home while on assignment in Butte County

Sep 14, 2015 7:30 PM by News Staff

At least eight firefighters lost their homes to the fast moving Valley Fire in Lake County, including one man who was in Butte County helping with the Lumpkin Fire when he learned his home had been lost.

The union that represents 6,500 firefighters launched a fundraising campaign Monday for the eight victims. Mike Lopez, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, says two or three other firefighters may have lost their homes as well.

Lopez says several of the firefighters were battling blazes in Northern California when they heard of the flames reaching their homes, and fortunately none of families have been hurt.

Robert Taylor, 24, works out of the Kelsey-Cobb station in Lake County, but was in Butte County on assignment for a day and a half when the Valley Fire broke out.

Taylor said he'd heard the fire was intense in Lake County and that structures were being lost, but he didn't learn his home's fate until he got cell phone service about three hours later.

Taylor's mother told him their family was being evacuated, and she wanted instructions on what to do. By the time Robert reached her she’d been evacuated to Middletown High School and they were being evacuated again to the Calistoga Evacuation Center at the fairgrounds.

His mom said she was sure the house was a loss.

“I was put on a new engine when I returned to Kelsey–Cobb,” Robert said. “I eventually came across my neighborhood and all of the houses in the neighborhood, including mine, were gone. We lived in that house since I was in the third grade. We lost everything. My family got out –mom, dad and my little brother (17). They saved some clothes and pictures and heirlooms from grandma."

“In all honesty, I haven’t had time to think about the house,” Taylor said. “I am still in the help-others mode. If I can prevent this happening to other people then I will. I am still in structure defense. I’m afraid that if I slowed down and thought about the loss it would eat me up. I am staying strong for the family.”

Taylor is ready to continue fighting fires. “I am hearing about other firefighters who have lost their homes, too. The fire doesn’t recognize who owns the homes. It just burns. We are at the mercy of the fires.”


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