Browning man recounts helping battle California wildfire

Greg Guardipee II is a firefighter from Browning
Posted at 8:39 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 10:39:28-04

BROWNING — Wildfire season made its mark across the country and firefighters across the nation have worked tirelessly to put them out and contain them. Several firefighters in Browning had the chance to work one of the biggest fires in California, the Caldor fire.

Greg Guardipee II is a firefighter from Browning who has been working across state borders on some of the year’s biggest fires. He is a member of the Flamechasers, a private company with its own firefighters that can be called to fires across the country. This is Guardipee’s first year with them and he had quite the task at hand for one of his first calls.

“When we were first there, it got to 171,000 acres and then it had over 450 homes burned when we first got there. That was the first day. And then progressively through the week, the fire started to blow up. And so it pushed, once we left it pushed to over 210 or 220 [thousand] acres,” Guardipee said.

Guardipee said they were there for 12 days and couldn’t get full containment and were forced to rely on Mother Nature to help get it out. “There was nothing we could really do about it. It was just spiking due to the weather. It started drifting away from south Lake Tahoe and it just started pushing up into the mountains and so we pretty much let nature take its course,” Guardipee said.

Guardipee met other firefighters from Browning who were not available to talk but says he was honored to work with them and is looking forward to what the Flamechasers might bring him in the future.

“Actually we just met each other this year but it was definitely a good experience for me being first year on the fires and stuff. They definitely welcomed me with open arms on to the pumpers and you know it was pretty excited and I love fighting fires with those guys and I’d definitely do it again with them.”

Guardipee says it was nerve-wracking to be at a fire that big but is looking forward to being able to fight more fires like that in the future.