Firefighter’s girlfriend watched live footage as he saved home surrounded by flames


Firefighter Grant Newnom had just come off a 60-hour shift battling the Glass Fire in Northern California when he learned that his girlfriend’s parents’ home was in the fire’s path. He decided to go protect it himself.

Elise Jones watched through a security camera Sunday night as Newnom, 34, worked to keep the fire at bay.

“You could see embers flying in the wind and all over the place,” Jones said. “You’re just like, ‘yeah, those are flames. My mom was crying a lot. She was just very concerned for him.”

Her two kids, parents and brother’s family saw Newnom struggle to combat raging flames and stubborn winds.

For hours, Newnom fought to extinguish the fires threatening the house. Four firefighters from the Santa Rosa department joined him.

Glass Fire threatens a family home.Elise Jones

“I’m going around the house and putting out embers on the roof because it’s just blowing embers, and they’re just bouncing off the house, bouncing off the roof, bouncing off everywhere,” Newnom said. “And there were a couple of times during the burn that I’m like, wow, OK, we might lose this thing.”

The house was surrounded “360 degrees around” by flames, Jones said. But it was not damaged, to Newnom and the four other Santa Rosa firefighters.

Once the house was deemed safe, the other firefighters left and Newnom was left putting out remaining flames with a garden hose. “t’s a lot slower of an operation,” Newnom joked.

Elise Jones and her boyfriend, Grant Newnom.Elise Jones

Jones, 35, was at her parents’ house earlier in the day when they received an evacuation text. Newnom urged her to take it seriously, so they evacuated to her brother’s house out of the line of fire.

The blaze was known as the Shady Fire when it threatened the home Sunday, but it was since merged with the Glass Fire, which ignited overnight Sunday in the Napa Valley and burned through vineyards, resorts and homes. It’s grown to nearly 60,000 acres and destroyed more than 250 buildings and damaged 144 more.

More than 20 fires are raging in the state.

Fires have claimed 30 lives across the state since the start of the unprecedented fire season.

California has seen the largest wildfire in state history and more than 3.7 million acres have burned across the state, much of it Northern California, which recorded one of its driest winters on record.

Jones feels lucky that her parents’ home was spared and that she got to see the fight to save it live on the security camera.

“It was very, not peaceful, but helpful to be able to watch what was going on and have answers almost immediately,” she said.

Sarah Kaufman

Sarah Kaufman is a Los Angeles based reporter for the social newsgathering team. 


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