Rogue firefighters save homes threatened by Little Bear Fire
Posted at: 06/14/2012 11:11 PM
| Updated at: 06/15/2012 9:40 AM
By: Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side; Shaun Griswold, KOB.com
A crew of firefighters battling the Little Bear Fire said they saved 50 to 70 homes after they ignored orders to stand down and stop home rescues.
"We've got a little outlaw department, I guess is what you'd call it, but sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” Fire Cpt. Craig VanWinkle said.
The fire north of Ruidoso remains at 40 percent contained and has destroyed more than 200 homes.
VanWinkle said bureaucratic red tape has stifled some crews responses to protect homes.
He said his crew from Capitan, NM, was ordered to stop protecting a home if it caught fire and move onto another home.
Fortunately for David Hanna, the crew ignored that order and saved his home.
"We might have broken the policy, but we saved the man’s house,” VanWinkle said.
VanWinkle said his crew was also reprimanded because it chose to battle flames near homes instead of going to a meeting.
"I called them by phone and told them that we were still battling fire and that I was not going to be at that meeting and told them what trucks and what numbers."
Soon after, several fire safety officers told the crew to pull out of the fire fight because they didn’t attend the meeting, VanWinkle said.
Fire officials said they are looking into the issue, and the incident commander said he wouldn’t have ordered anyone off the line for missing a meeting.
Homeowner David Hanna said the rogue fire crew from Capitan ignored orders and saved his home as well.
He has nothing but praise for them.
"These guys they did what they should have done,” Hanna said. “I'm so blessed that it went around my house and you guys helped and I'm just sorry and I'm just sorry about everything else that happened around town 224 homes, yeah it's terrible."