FAIRFIELD — As a wind-fed brush fire that ended up at seven alarms raced through a north Fairfield neighborhood, some residents took action, attempting to slow the blaze’s progress before fire crews swarmed the area.
Danny Austin, who lives on the south side of the 2800 block of Marigold Drive – across from where the fire broke out – said he was driving by and thought he saw a neighbor’s yard on fire.
He and another passer-by jumped out of their vehicles, jumped the back fence and tried to halt the fire’s progress.
“So what we did was that we got out there with shovels and stuff and tried to stop the fire from coming. . . . We stopped it from behind this house right here,” Austin said, pointing across the street from his home in the middle of the block. “It just got a little bit too hot.”
Austin was upset that the fire department didn’t get behind the houses sooner.
“The thing about it is that they could have stopped it right there, or they could have went two houses down and fought the fire back this way,” he said.
Austin wasn’t the only resident to take on the flames.
Awakened from a nap, 20-year firefighting veteran Don Gillett of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection went right into firefighter mode.
“My wife hollered there was fire in the back of the house. There it is. Just started doing the fireman thing,” he said.
“It’s an unfortunate day for the neighborhood,” Gillett said. “About 3:15 p.m., it was here.”
Gillett said it took six police officers to get him to leave his home, which went largely unscathed.
Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Burdette Shields and his wife, Jessie, stood across from their home as the flames raged around it.
“I was always concerned about that growth of weeds in the back,” Shields said. “You know, nobody really takes care of it.”
Jessie Shields was home when the fire broke out.
“What I saw was just flames just shooting up over that wall (in the backyard) and started coming this way,” she said. “So I try to get the water hose and just try to help my neighbors, because they had put their water hose in the back.”
Jessie Shields said she moved to the front yard as a vacant lot next door started to go up.
“I ran around and got the hose, then started trying to help with that fire,” she said. “Then the fire trucks came and then I saw that it was getting too hot, so the firemen asked me to come on and get out.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.