"I had to save them first": Family, rescuers relate "close" shun from wildfires

NAPA, Calif. — Wildfires have charred hull in Napa, California. But what was ripped detached by a inhuman abandon was put back together by heroes from above.

Pepe Tamayo returned Thursday to the home he and his family fled. His 7-year-old son, Jesse, his wife, Graciela, and her relatives — both in their 70s — transient the abandon separately.

“It was ugly,” Tamayo said. “It was close. It was really close.”

Tamayo almost didn’t make it.

California Highway Patrol helicopter commander Pete Gavitt was drifting rescue missions by complicated smoke, dark and clever winds. There was room on his helicopter for 4 when they found 5 members of Tamayo’s family.

“So we told these guys, ‘Please, take my family,'” Tamayo said.


Pepe Tamayo returned Thursday to the home he and his family fled. He almost didn’t make it out of the fire alive.

“He was holding Jesse up and he didn’t wish to leave his dad, and we could hear him yelling, ‘No, get in it, it will be okay,'” Gavitt responded.

“I was crying, and my son, he was great too,” Graciela said. “And he was saying, ‘Mom, if father doesn’t make it, don’t worry. I’m going to take caring of you.'”

As the helicopter left him behind, and with the fire shutting in, Tamayo called his older daughter.

“I called my daughter, and we told her, mi’ja, if we don’t see you again, remember we adore you,'” he said.

The rescuers done two some-more trips before they found Tamayo, much to the service of moody officer Whitney Lowe.

“I grabbed him right above his left chest on a shirt and said, ‘You’re coming with me,'” Lowe said.

There were hugs all around when discovered and rescuers met again, completing a story of aplomb and a father’s duty.

“What else can we do,” Tamayo said. “I had to save them first.”

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