CHP flight officer describes helicopter operations that rescued people from North Bay fires

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CHP helicopter crew members risked their lives by flying in to rescue dozens of fire victims in the middle of the night.

Officer Shaun Bouyea told us one rescue involved a family with a small child that was trying to escape the fast-moving flames of the Atlas Peak Fire, north of Napa.

Boyea said the helicopter crew last night flew around looking for people who looked like they were trapped. They could tell what roads were blocked and they set them down and rescued them. There was no radio communication. They just did it by flying around seeing you who needed to be rescued.

One of the families they found included a brood of five.

CHP helicopter pilot Pete Gavitte and Officer Whitney Lowe came across Pepe Tamayo, his wife Graciele Tamayo and their 7-year-old son, Jesse, as well as grandparents, Helena Morales Torres and Ramiro Mesa Rodriguez.  There was only room for four people though in that chopper.

“I told these guys please take my family.  I’ll be here. I’ll be alright,” Tamayo told KTVU.

Tamayo stayed behind and waited for the CHP crew to return.

On Wednesday night, the family met with the officers to thank them. Even though Tamayo lost his home, his family was safe.

“I want to thank the officers because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be alive right now,” Tamayo said.

Watch his full interview above.