Retired Tulare fire chief helps save homes from fast-moving fire in Visalia

Friday, April 21, 2023
Retired Tulare fire chief helps save homes from fast-moving fire in Visalia
A retired South Valley fire chief took action to save homes from fast-moving flames in Visalia on Wednesday.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A retired South Valley fire chief took action to save homes from fast-moving flames in Visalia on Wednesday.

The fire broke out around 10 am at a home on Victor Avenue near Linwood Street.

Former Tulare Fire Chief Luis Nevarez described the panic in his friend's voice when he got a call Wednesday morning that a home erupted in flames behind his house.

"From Tulare, when he said that I looked over, and I could see the column of smoke," said Nevarez.

From there, Nevarez to Visalia to help his friend as the fire continued to grow.

"As I'm driving over there I can see the column getting worse and I would see new columns of black smoke pushing and I thought for sure some of the neighboring houses caught on fire, but it was vehicles that were stored behind that structure," explained Nevarez.

When Nevarez arrived to his friends home, the backyard fence and the neighboring house was up in flames.

With 32 years of experience under his belt he knew exactly what to do and knew they needed more help, Nevarez waved down a nearby fire truck and made a pathway for their firehouse to save time.

"I told him, 'you need to pull your unit out in front of this house, I have access so you can pull an exposure line,'" said Nevarez.

Nevarez found himself on the frontlines, hose in hand, fighting fires once again.

Alongside him were familiar faces he recognized, from former colleagues to students who became firefighters themselves.

Thankfully this time around his friend's house was saved from flames that got too close for comfort.

"He already had pulled his TV, computer, it was all out on the front lawn already. So, when I was leaving I said you can put all your stuff back in your house," said Nevarez.

The initial home that caught fire was destroyed, the cause is still under investigation.

Nevarez said this experience did make him miss being a firefighter, but overall he was just happy to help.