Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman presented special commendations to a Humboldt Cal Fire crew for firefighting efforts in October that prevented the spread of a wildfire. Pictured left to right are: Sheriff Tom Allman, firefighter Kianna Norman, Apparatus Engineer Jesus Valdovinos, and firefighters Bobby Gray and Peter Hewson. (Mary Bullwinkel — For the Times-Standard)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Special recognition has been given to a Humboldt County Cal Fire crew for their firefighting efforts earlier this season in Mendocino County.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman handed out his commendations to the four-person crew on Humboldt Ranger Unit (Fire Engine) 1273 during a small ceremony on Tuesday at the Cal Fire Humboldt-Del Norte Unit in Fortuna.

“You were in the right spot at the right time and you did the right thing,” Allman said.

A certificate and letter of commendation were presented to Cal Fire apparatus engineer Jesus Valdovinos, and Cal Fire firefighters Bobby Gray, Kianna Norman, and Peter Hewson.

The actions of the fire crew that led to the commendations took place on Oct. 27, on state Route 20, about six miles east of U.S. Highway 101 in Mendocino County. Allman and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Caudillo were keeping an eye on the Burris Fire that had started the day before in the Potter Valley area.

A spot fire had just ignited along state Route 20 when Cal Fire Unit 1273 and its crew happened upon the scene. According to Allman, after the spot fire started, it exploded in size.

“I knew we were in a very bad situation,” he said.

Once at the scene, the Humboldt Cal Fire crew sprang into action.

“The heroic crew on Unit 1273 stopped this potentially devastating spot fire as it hit Highway 20,” Sheriff Allman said. “The crew made the stop even though winds were in excess of 35 miles per hour, pushing embers across the highway and blowing those embers and flames toward the crew as they aggressively stood their ground, and the erratic winds changed course.” Allman added, “If I could give you a key to (Mendocino) County, I would give you a key.”

Sheriff Allman said the commendations for the firefighters is a big deal.

“For putting out that spot fire, you are getting a sheriff’s commendation,” he told the cal Fire crew. “I’ve been sheriff (of Mendocino County) for 13 years, and during that time, I’ve only given out two commendations.”

Cal Fire Humboldt-Del Norte Unit Chief Kurt McCray said to the crew, “I appreciate and am humbled by your service. You represent us very well,” he added, “(and) I am very proud of what you did that day. Your actions that day helped protect the safety and well-being of the citizens of Mendocino County.

Allman said if the spot fire had spread to the south side of state Route 20, the fire would have been unstoppable until the next fuel break, an estimated 20 miles away, with more than 1,000 homes in the path of the fire.

“Without a doubt, the immediate action of fire apparatus engineer Jesus Valdovinos and his fellow firefighters saved lived, property, and millions of tax dollars,” Allman said. “This commendation is presented as our appreciation to these brave heroes.”

blog comments powered by Disqus