One Dead in Butte County Wildfires

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">A firefighter hoses down flames from the Butte Lightening Complex fire as they approach a fire line near Concow, Calif., Thursday, July 10, 2008. The fire has destroyed more than 50 homes while consuming more than 45,000 acres.&#40;AP Photo&#47;Rich Pedroncelli&#41;</span></div>
July 11, 2008 9:11:25 PM PDT
A Butte County man has died in one of the lightning-sparked wildfires burning.

His body was found in the remnants of a house in Concow, one of the many small communities under a "mandatory" evacuation order, along the Feather River.

The White House said President Bush will come to California next Thursday to see the fire damage for himself.

About 80 percent of federal firefighting force has been assigned to the California fires, and governor Schwarzenegger called up two-thousand additional National Guard troops to assist.

"I was on the phone yesterday with Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and with Agricultre Secretary Ed Schaffer and Senator Dianne Feinstein and a representative of Barbara Boxer to help us with getting extra federal resources," said Gov. Schwarzenegger (R) California.

NASA released satellite images of all the smoke the fires are creating in the Canyon Complex in Butte County.

"My whole community is gone," said wildfire survivor Tom Tirey.

Tirey looked at what's left of his house in Concow. Nothing is left, but a higher power must have been looking out for him.

Even though the area in Butte County was under mandatory evacuation, he stayed. He found himself surrounded by flames.

He fled to his neighbor's pool, but could only make it to a filthy horse's troth.

"I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see, the smoke was in my eyes, the heat was intense. Embers were coming through the air and the flames were sideways. One of the houses burned for a longtime and the heat was intense," said Tirey.

"As you were laying in the water, what were you thinking?" asked ABC30's Nannette Miranda.

"I'm hoping that I could breathe enough to stay alive," said Tirey.

The six-foot solar technology inventor stayed in a five-foot tub filled with filthy water for nearly three hours. He really had no choice. Firefighters were doing a type of back burn when those canyon winds picked up and ravaged through at least 50 homes.

Tom's neighbor wasn't so lucky. He believes the 58-year-old died, and he believes the retiree didn't evacuate because he was tired of several false alarm evacuations they had all gone through for weeks.

"I just believe that he was just fed up with all of that [the evacuations] and he didn't feel that there was much of a threat because it had been going on falsely, crying wolf, crying wolf, and that's what happens," said Tirey.

The fire has moved over a couple of communities, and firefighters are taking advantage of the ability to do water drops.

Tom looks back now and thanks his lucky stars.

"I can't believe you stayed three hours in that tub," said ABC30's Nannette Miranda.

"I doesn't taste bad, I drank it too," said Tirey.

It's been reported that the fire victim was a female, but Tom insists the victim is a man. Perhaps that is another victim, as there are several people missing from the fire.


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