Oct 23, 2017
By Val Larsen
Around 11 p.m. Sunday night, October 8th, in the darkness of the Redwoods, Kevin Cogliandro's pager went off, requesting all staff to report to the station. He did not have all his gear yet so was not allowed to respond to their call. The pager went off two more times that night so Kevin knew something major was going on, but was not yet aware of the growing threat. When a coworker called him at 4:30 a.m. requesting the day off because their family was being evacuated from their home(s) in Santa Rosa, Kevin turned on the news and saw the devastation.
"I knew there were other fires burning already, and a lack of resources in Sonoma County. I cancelled work immediately," Kevin told me. "Camp Meeker had not been called out, but I gathered a crew of 3 (Ben Evenbeck, Jim Stevens and myself) anyway, prepped a fire truck and called dispatch to request an assignment. They sent us to the Pressley Rd area off Sonoma Mountain Rd."
A resident of Sonoma County for over 27 years, mostly in west county with 9 years in Camp Meeker, he has been a volunteer firefighter in Camp Meeker for 8 hears, and just joined Occidental 3 months ago. Ever since graduating from High School, his dream has been to serve his community as a firefighter.
"Even though this is the worst fire I've ever experienced, it impacted me in a good way. We met up with a crew from Occidental and a crew from San Antonio late Monday night. A tremendous amount of determination and teamwork was put out by those three volunteer fire departments, with the help from a water truck, driven by Mark Soiland from Stony Point Rock Quarry. We were able to save 8 homes along Sonoma Mountain rd. The most difficult thing was being able to keep going with less than 2 hours of sleep and very little food. Adrenaline is what kept us going."
Kevin and all the firefighter's hearts go out to all the individuals who have lost so much. A number of the firefighters also lost everything but kept on fighting the fires. We have so much to be grateful for, and I know I will be forever grateful to these brave souls who give so much. Volunteer firefighter don't receive much compensation for their hard work so please donate.
A few tips for helping the firefighters:
1. When firemen come to your location, help them by going to a safe location. They can't focus on their main challenge, fighting the fire if we are in the way.
2. Create a defensible space around your home, structures and property.
3. Keep your roof, gutters and chimney clean and free of debris.
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