Waste Management Workers Save Elderly Camp Fire Evacuee

"I said is there some family to call?" Cummings said. "She said no. So, I said you better get your stuff, let's go."

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 7:33 AM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 7:41 AM

Chico, Calif.--"My route manager told me the fire was coming and we needed to get out of there," said Dane Cummings.

Not so fast - you see, Waste Management driver Dane Cummings has been on his Magalia route for nearly a decade. He knows his customers, he cares about them.

By then, it was about ten in the morning. The Camp Fire was ravaging Paradise.

"I was going to make sure, if they need help loading anything - I have one guy who had his knee replaced, and I just worked my way up," said Cummings.

That's when he found Margaret Newsum, 93 years old, standing outside her home, watching in shock as the sky turned black.

"I said is there some family to call?" Cummings said. "She said no. So, I said you better get your stuff, let's go."

Cummings knew, no more stalling - he had Newsum's life in his hands.

"It was horrible - I think it took us 6 hours from the top of Magalia to Chico," said Cummings.

"Margaret was his last stop - there were a lot of places where people had lost power and their garage doors wouldn't open and they weren't strong enough because they were old. He'd open their garage doors - who knows what would've happened to those people with no car," said Brian Harrison, Cumming's coworker.

Harrison was not just awed by Cummings bravery. He was also inspired. He couldn't let Margaret go to a shelter, all alone.

"It was easy for me - we could make room, and we did, and I'm very glad that we did it," said Harrison.

More than a month later - Margaret is still a member of the Harrison household.

"Everyday when we watch the news and they talk about opening up a new area in the evacuation my kids actually frown because they know they're closer to Margaret going back to her home," said Harrison. "She's been great for us and it's been good for her."

Taking risks, opening up homes - that's just what friends do.

"Looking back, you wouldn't have done anything differently?" I asked. "No," he said. "They're my friends."

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The final Friday of November was a beautiful one for northern California with plentiful sunshine, warmer than average temperatures and weaker wind. We can expect plenty of sunshine and continued mild weather this weekend.
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