As a wildfire closed in and thick smoke clogged the air, the sky an angry red, the sheriff’s deputy told a dispatcher that the road he was on had become “nearly impassable.” Yet, the officer’s job was not yet done. He still had residents to rescue.
In body camera footage released Friday by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy drives around the Mark West Road area of Santa Rosa, California, dodging flames and conducting door-to-door evacuations as the deadly and devastating Tubbs fire began to overwhelm the region in the early part of the week.
“I think it really tells the story of how dangerous and how difficult the event was,” Sonoma Sheriff Robert Giordano said at a press conference, referring to the harrowing footage, according to CBS News. “It’s absolutely human and it’s very real and very honest and transparent.”
At one point in the video, the officer ― identified by CBS as Sgt. Brandon Cutting ― is seen stopping by the house of a woman with a disability and helping a fellow deputy rescue her and her husband.
Cutting shouted “Sheriff’s Office! Sheriff’s Office!” as he rushed from home to home urging people to head for safety, and yelled for drivers to “Go! Go! Go!” He’s also heard coughing, cursing and panting in exertion. As he drives his vehicle, the body cam footage shows how close the encroaching flames got to his car; at several points, orange sparks can be seen raining down on his windshield.
“While it’s only one deputy’s video, it is representative of all the deputies who helped evacuate people that night,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook of the footage. “While we don’t usually provide bodyworn camera footage, the Sheriff believes this footage is crucial in helping our community understand how dangerous these fires are right now.”
The Tubbs fire is one of several large fires that have been devastating parts of northern California. Across Northern California, the wildfires have killed at least 40 people and incinerated more than 200,000 acres of land since last week. About 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.