2 men recover after being burned in SCU Lightning Complex Fires


ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – We are monitoring the SCU Lightning Complex fire that continues to burn in the East and South Bay.

This is the largest of the three complex fires burning more than 365,000 acres across Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties but so far it has also been the least destructive.

31 structures have been destroyed, and six damaged, although more than 20,000 are still threatened.

Cal Fire is reporting 25-percent containment.

At least five people have been injured during the firefight.

Two men who were burned by the fire as they were trying to evacuate in Livermore.

“I hope I can one day live up to what he’s done to set the bar really high. I’m so proud of you and more so that you are here and alive,” Steven Nelsen, brother of Tom Shelton, said.

James Shultz, 32, and Tom Shelton, 22, are lucky to be alive. Both men have significant burns all over their bodies and are in the hospital after attempting to save their 88-acre property in Livermore last week from catching on fire.

The two men spent days setting up sprinklers to try to protect their homes as the SCU fire inched closer and closer to them. 

“They knew what they were in store for. They were never there to fight a fire. They were only there to just make sure our stuff was good to go and then at the point they needed to go they were going to go,” Nelsen said.

But as James and Tom jumped in their cars to head down the mountain last Wednesday, the flames caught up to them.

Tom’s window was down as he was driving and his beard caught on fire.

“He said my hair was on fire, I couldn’t roll up my window and I was driving through smoke and all the sudden I crashed into a log,” Nelsen said.

Steven said his brother couldn’t get out of the car. his door was jammed shut.

James, who was just behind him, jumped out of his car to try to save Tom but got caught in the fire.

Tom, who was also on fire, was able to open up his passenger side door and drag James’ body to a water tank.

“The sprinkler was coming out the top and they had the water down below and they were basically puddling it on them as the fire was passing over them,” Nelsen said.

Now bloodied, burned, and battered, the two men jumped in the only car left on the property and got themselves to safety.

Tom burned 35-percent of his body. James burned 75-percent of his body.

The two men have a long road ahead of them as they begin to recover.

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