Bulldozer crews save homes from wildfires in Sonoma County


SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Racing against time and under dangerous conditions, residents come together to fight back a wildfire bearing down on homes.

The group worked around the clock to keep flames from their communities near the Russian River.

They fought back the fire for more than a week.

Video that was shot from driver’s seat of a bulldozer cutting fire lines during the Walbridge Fire, Wes Parmeter, part of a family of loggers who also run an excavator company in the tiny Sonoma County town of Cazadero was one of four dozer operators who worked for more than a week straight — sometimes 24 hours a day cutting fire lines, sometimes right up against the flames.

“We had to do it all by ourselves because CAL fire was really busy and the other places to be and everybody can’t be everywhere at once,” Parmeter said. 

Working against the raging fires and winds, with very little sleep, he and his crew

worked to cut the fire off before it reached his community and other towns along the Russian River.

Parmeter has operated his dozer for cal fire for many years but this fire was different.

“I think it’s because it’s close to home why you work hard to have a lot of things and just give up you can’t to have all this you got a fight and that was it that’s what it was,” Parmeter said. 

Parmeter estimates he and his crew cut 30 miles of fire line some of them 10 dozer blades long.

His crew was not alone, he estimates another 10-12 bulldozers helped cut a contingency line has a backup.

Over in Jenner, Mark Mann, a rancher who also runs an excavator company was part of another small crew who cut fire lines right up against the blaze for more than a week in order to keep the Meyers Fire burning on the coast from moving into town and east towards Guerneville.  

“The communities counting on you just put it on the effort that you need to put in and try to keep enough of a clear mind with short amount of sleep to make good decisions,” Mann said. 

It’s not hard to find places now where the fire has blackened this beautiful landscape, it’s also not hard to find signs dotting the areas that were spared.

Giving thanks to the people who stepped up to help save them.

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