The fire that took a terrible twist for a firefighter

September 2, 2009 7:15:57 PM PDT
While he tried to protect other people, he couldn't protect his own home as another wildfire blew in and burned it downU.S. Forest Service Fire firefighter Robert Crowder was sleeping Sunday afternoon, after working one long overnight shift at the Station Fire in Southern California when he got a call on his cell phone from his roommate who said their house was on fire.

The roommate, who is also a firefighter on his day off, was running for his life.

Robert Crowder, U.S. Forest Service Firefighter said: "I said, 'What? Is this a joke?' Then I could hear the helicopter he flies on, the 514, fly over his head. I'm like, 'Oh, he's not joking.'"

Back at Crowder's neighborhood, in the Sierra Foothill community of Auburn, a devastating, wind-whipped fire was ripping through subdivisions.

By the time it was over, the 29-year-old's home was one of 63 reduced to ashes. Even his prized 1964 Chevy Nova was no more.

Robert Crowder said: "Yeah, I'd seen my house. I'd seen the car. It's like down to nothing. I've seen house burn before, plenty of times, but to see my own stuff. It puts a whole new twist in things."

All Crowder has left is the fire bag he took with him to the Southern California fire. The 7-year-veteran knew the dry field bordering his subdivision was a disaster waiting to happen.

Robert Crowder said: "I knew there was potential. I never thought it would be me. But now it is."))

Interestingly, Crowder is actually glad he was away when his house burned down. Otherwise it would have been him and his engine responding.

Robert Crowder said: "If I was there, knowing that my house was going to go, that would be tougher. I'd rather be where I was."

Crowder has insurance and is on his way to getting back on his feet. But, he said that next house he sees go up in flames, he'll better understand their pain.

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