Burned Calif. Firefighter Urges Defensible Space


A firefighter badly burned in a grass fire is urged homeowners to take action now to protect their property from wildfire.

Sacramento Metro Fire Capt. Steve Eggimann said this is the time of year homeowners should be out cutting the grass and weeds around their home to create 30 feet of defensible space.

The buffer could save your property, and will give firefighters a chance to take a stand against approaching flames if fire comes through your area.

In 2008, Eggimann and his crew tried to save a mobile home that was in the path of a wind driven inferno.

The crew tried to split the fire around the home, but things quickly went wrong, according to Eggimann.

The wind shifted and the flames circled back on the crew, which had nowhere to go.

"The flames grew from 3 feet to 13-to- 15 feet just like that. They were a lot faster than I was," Eggimann said.

Eggimann was enveloped in flames as he stumbled back to his engine.

By the time he reached his crew he had second-degree burns all over his body and third-degree burns on his hands.

He spent 10 days in the hospital, underwent multiple surgeries. He now shares his story with other firefighters.

Eggimann admits he made some bad choices that day but hopes others will learn from everything that went wrong.

He said homeowners can make the biggest difference by having 30 feet of cleared space around their property.

"If they have a good defensible space we are going to come in and triage the houses. Well say this one has good def. space -- (the) owner has done a good job in prepping his house. Well make our stand here," said Eggimann.

Homeowners can be sighted for not having defensible space in Sacramento County.

In the foothills of the Sierra 100 feet of defensible space is recommended.

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