A terrifying video shows the fiery drive a Napa County sheriff’s deputy made after knocking on doors and telling residents to leave their homes as the Glass Fire exploded into a raging inferno Sunday.
Deputy Matt Macomber was among the last people to exit the 2-mile-long Crystal Springs Road near Deer Park as flames engulfed the hills on either side of the byway. The footage was shared on Twitter by the Sheriff’s Office along with the message, “Never wait til the last second to evacuate.”
“It’s important to share this video so people understand that when you decline to evacuate, you risk a lot of people’s lives,” said Napa County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Henry Wofford. “We find a lot of people saying, ‘You can’t arrest me and force me to evacuate,’ and then 90 minutes later we get the call, ‘My home is surrounded by flames. You need to come rescue me.'”
Wofford explained that after evacuation orders are issued, deputies patrol neighborhoods and knock on the doors of homes that don’t have tags on their doors indicating the residents have left. When they first drive into a neighborhood, flames may not be approaching. But after an hour of evacuation enforcement, often addressing people who don’t want to leave, deputies may face a dangerous exit.
“This video shows the aftermath after all the homes were confirmed to have been evacuated,” said Wofford. “This is what they have to drive through. They put their lives on the line. When they drive in, it might not look like that. But give it another 45 minutes, this is what unfolds.”
Wofford added that law enforcement officers are trained in how to drive in fire conditions and Macomber has been at his job for over 20 years. For example, deputies know to never turn off their cars and leave them running while knocking on doors.
“The smoke can get to the engine and maybe your filter is clogged and your car isn’t going to start,” he said. “You could have someone who evacuated to late who tries to start their car and it doesn’t.”
The Glass Fire ignited early Sunday morning and has grown to 42,560 acres with no containment as of Tuesday morning. The blaze has swallowed homes and torn through wineries, devastating communities that have repeatedly been ravaged by wildfires in recent years. Flames raced through the community of Deer Park near St. Helena and the Silverado Trail.
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