Napa County

Firefighter Has to Tell His Own Family Their Home Was Destroyed By Valley Fire

Cal Fire firefighter Robert Taylor had to tell his mother the family’s Middletown home is gone

Firefighter Robert Taylor is in a situation he's seen others go through countless times before: The Cal Fire fireman is among hundreds who lost their homes over the weekend in the Valley Fire that's ravaging part of Northern California.

The 24-year-old was dispatched to his own Middletown neighborhood hours after battling another fire in Butte County.

Taylor said he could barely believe his eyes.

"We're making our way into Cobb Mountain. That's my hometown I was seeing just covered in flames," he said. "Your body wants to stop and just be emotional, and slow you down a little bit, and taking that hit is hard, but with all the fire and everything going on around you, just the chaos, you didn't have time to think about it. All I could do was just get a photo and keep going."

Taylor had the duty of having to tell his family their home was gone.

Taylor's mother, who is staying with the rest of the family at an evacuation center in Napa County, said her son called on Saturday night to give her the news she didn't want to believe.

"He said, 'No, mom. I'm sitting right in front of the house in the engine, and the house is gone,'" she said.

Despite the loss, Taylor said he's determined to stay in Lake County and keep fighting fires. In fact, he kept working through the night even, after discovering his house was gone.

"Just the thought of 'What can we save?'" Taylor said. "I know how I feel and I don't want anyone else to feel what I feel."

Taylor said that, for the first time in his career, he can tell fire victims he knows exactly what they're going through.

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