Occidental Volunteer Fire Chief Ron Lunardi was leaving town for a hunting trip with Fire Captain Steve Balich Thursday evening when he noticed a fire threatening a home on Harmony Lane, northeast of Occidental.
A small residential unit attached to a larger home was burning, as well as a pump house, a wood shed and a patch of grass.
Lunardi reported the blaze at around 6:30 p.m. and he and Balich put their trip on hold to fight the fire.
While Lunardi reported the incident and helped the 94-year-old man living there out of his home, Balich kept the flames from the main house using a garden hose, Lunardi said.
“We didn't have any safety clothing, and Steve said it was getting kind of hot” by the time other agencies arrived, Lunardi said.
Many nearby fire departments responded in addition to Cal Fire, including Forestville, Monte Rio, Gold Ridge, Camp Meeker and Graton.
“It was pretty quick; we had it under control by 7:30,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshal Turbeville. Firefighters stayed on the scene until about 9:30 p.m.
Turbeville estimated damage to the smaller residence at upwards of $100,000. The home itself only received light smoke damage, Turbeville said. He added that the man living there denied offers for aid and spent the night in his home, though a neighbor planned to check on him.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze.
After the danger was over, Lunardi and Balich drove to through the night to their hunting destination, a Mendocino County ranch.
“It was just one of those weird timings,” Lunardi said. “If we hadn't driven by, I don't know how long it would have taken for someone to call it in.”
You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205.