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Thu Sep 10, 2020, 12:38 PM

'Stories of death and survival on Last Chance Road', CA fires

Residents were trapped within a flaming forest when an inferno engulfed the only road in and out of a small mountain community known as Last Chance.

The emergency evacuation notice sent by CalFire officials was too late, residents said. One resident, Tad Jones, died, and other Last Chance residents told KRON4 that they barely made it out alive. Their stories of survival are harrowing.

Jason Hickey spent the night in an open field dodging fireballs and breathing heavy smoke as the CZU Lightning Complex Fire raged all around him in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Hickey was the last person who talked to Jones. The two men had both tried to escape separately by driving out, but flames blocked Last Chance Road. So they turned back to the empty field where CalFire had told Last Chance residents to go when a wildfire broke out.

Jason Hickey stands in the open field where he spent a harrowing night. Jones decided his best shot of survival would be submerging himself in a river one mile away from the field. Hickey chose the field. Hickey said even if Jones had stayed in the field with him, he doesn’t know if the 73-year-old man would have survived.

“It was bad,” Hickey told KRON4. “It’s not likely he would be been alright. The car I rode in took the first brunt of the fireball. I would have been cooked if I didn’t have the car. The car caught on fire and I had to jump out and run around for a while stay out of the big flare ups. The car took the first brunt of the heat. I just got out and ran around and stayed out of the main flareups.”

Hickey eventually hiked six miles through a burning forest to reach safety. While Hickey was hiking, he stumbled into another Last Chance resident who was also hiking out of the fire.

Pat Kelly said he survived the CZU fire’s initial blast by diving into his pond and using a metal pipe as a makeshift snorkel.

“I went under the water just as the wall of flame went over me. I had put a 10-foot rowboat in my pond, and used it as a shield between my head and the fire. I am convinced the boat kept my head from frying. I would estimate that I was in the pond for at least three hours before I got out and sought cover,” Kelly wrote.

Once the flames swept through the area, Kelly hiked as his only way to get out of the blaze. Kelly encountered Hickey, who appeared like a ghost in the forest.

“I yelled as loud as I could ‘Hello!’ and to my surprise a ghost-like figure appeared from a cloud of smoke. It was a gentleman named Jason. We set out together towards civilization through a surreal landscape of trees showering sparks and choking smoke,” Kelly wrote.


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Reply 'Stories of death and survival on Last Chance Road', CA fires (Original post)
Baclava Sep 10 OP
Solly Mack Sep 10 #1

Response to Baclava (Original post)

Thu Sep 10, 2020, 12:40 PM

1. I can't imagine the horror.

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