Two firefighters who became trapped Friday night while battling the Woodward Fire in Marin County were rescued by helicopter, authorities said Saturday.
The pair of Marin County firefighters were in heavy brush when they became stranded about 8:15 p.m. along a ridgeline about 75 yards from the fast-moving fire, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's rescue helicopter, the Henry 1, was sent to the scene and with a 100-foot long line, pulled both firefighters to safety at the same time.
Henry 1 is the only helicopter in the region that can do vertical long line rescues at night. It involves a rope that hangs from the bottom of the helicopter and tactical flight officer Chris Haas was attached to the end of it.
The operation was complicated by strong, gusting winds that intensified as Henry 1 flew closer to the head of the fire, the sheriff's office said.
In his years on the job, haas said it’s the first time he’s been that close to a fire during a rescue, “the butterflies were there under we took off and then it truly it was just game mode you know you have to do it,” he said.
With pilot Paul Bradley flying the helicopter, Haas saved the two men.
“Had it not been for the helicopter those firefighters would have perished,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick.
What many call heroic is just another day on the job for Haas, who’s too modest to take credit, “I think the real heroes are the guys, especially the firefighters and our patrol deputies that are literally out in the field on the edge. I was on the edge of the fire for a minute last they’re doing it for days on out,” he said.
The Woodward Fire is burning out of control in hilly and remote terrain in the Point Reyes National Seashore, southwest of Olema.
The fire, sparked by a lightning strike, has burned more than 2,200 acres and was first reported at 2:27 p.m. Tuesday
Bay City News contributed to this KTVU report.