Off-Duty Firefighters Show Up to Save Homes as Bushfire Rages in Washington State

September 15, 2020 Updated: September 15, 2020

With the 100-foot flames of the Sumner Grade Fire threatening family homes last week, a group of off-duty firefighters answered the call to battle the blaze between shifts, saving homes that otherwise would’ve been destroyed.

Round the clock, firefighters have been working tirelessly to stop a bushfire that forced the evacuations of 7,000 Washington state residents, consumed more than 800 acres, and destroyed 4 homes.

But not everyone followed the evacuation notice. When the flames reached Elhi Rim Road, one man, a firefighter, was still in his home.

In that moment, he decided to take up the hose in defense of his own home.

Jordan McClain, a first-time home owner and firefighter with Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, had decided to ignore the evacuation order to stay behind and defend his dream home, and those of his neighbors, too.

“It’s been a rough 2020 so we all got to look out for each other,” McClain told Fox13.

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When he saw the flames drawing nearer to his neighborhood, he knew he couldn’t fight them off alone. So, he sent out a text message to his fellow firefighters, urging them for help.

Within the hour, 40 off-duty firefighters had come running, some of them between shifts.

“It speaks to the brotherhood of the fire service,” McClain said. “I don’t know anywhere else where you can send out a text and have 40 guys responding within an hour to be here.”

The volunteers used garden hoses and donated equipment to keep the flames back, and their efforts saved several homes that would’ve been lost without their response.

The Sumner Grade Fire still is not completely contained, but firefighters are confident that with current conditions, it soon will be.

Residents have been allowed to begin returning home to see if their houses are still standing.

Sue Linton was one of the more fortunate homeowners in the area. She returned to find her home intact, and she says there are no words to describe that moment of anticipation and dread before your house comes into view.

“There’s no word in the dictionary that covers that feeling,” she told NBC. “If I could kiss every Pierce County fireman I would do it … How do people stand between fire and someone else’s home? I don’t know what kind of people they are, they’re angels, they’re my angels, they’re my heroes.”

McLain’s neighbors, the Taylors, are equally grateful. They had just moved into their own dream home, and reluctantly abandoned it when the fire got too close.

“It was just coming at us like a football field full of fire,” Doug Taylor told Fox13. “It was very, very frightening. I thought when we left we’d never see this again.”

But they, too, returned to find their home unharmed, all thanks to McLain and his fellow firefighters, who volunteered their free time to make sure people had homes to come back to.

“These guys are just heroes,” Taylor said. “That’s all you can say, they’re in the top 1 percent.”

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