A St. Helena couple is searching for the brave band of firefighters who saved their home from certain disaster in the flames that consumed their hillside off of Crystal Springs Road.
Gerry and Peter Working said firefighters appeared to have pitched a fierce battle to save the home, judging by the abandoned firehoses scattered all around, a pool now sitting half empty and a fire line that marched within feet of their home.
Peter said it even appeared the firefighters enlisted his leaf blower on the roof to blow off the embers.
"You can see the fire line came right up to the lawn," Peter said Wednesday.
The couple fled the house Saturday night as the flames marched over the hill, consuming everything in their path. They chewed through the barn sheltering a tractor and several thousand bottles of wine from the couple's now-charred vineyard. They incinerated the garage with a pair of cars, including a vintage Oldsmobile convertible. They toasted Jerry's pickup truck, leaving rivulets of melted aluminum hubcaps.
But before the fire could destroy a trove of precious photographs inside the garage, the firefighters got there first. They rescued photos from the walls along with photo albums and stored them in a car which they protected.
"I know these guys are brave and thoughtful, but this opened up a door to me where you could see who they are inside," Peter said. "They'd want somebody to grab their albums."
The couple doesn't know who the fire crews were that saved their home, but they were asking around to find out, without any intention of giving up the hunt.
"We just want to celebrate them and thank them," Gerry said. "It was more than just putting out a fire. It was tending to people's humanity."
As relieved as the couple was about the rescue of their home, which Gerry's parents built in the 1960s, there was no celebrating. Many neighbors had lost homes and vineyards in the merciless inferno that skipped through the wooded hillside.
With so much burnt in the area, there might be an inclination to call it a "Miracle on Crystal Springs Road." But the Workings would disagree.
"I would call it a miracle, except that I think they earned it," Peter said.