As Homes Burn in the Helena Fire, a Mother and Daughter Are Saved by Passing Heros
When the Helena Fire broke out last Wednesday, August 30, two men working near Junction City, saved a mother and her daughter after the two had to flee their burning home.
Bobby Bambino and Jon Jordan learned of the fire about 6 p.m. They began driving up the road towards the flames.
“We live right down the street from where the fire was,” Bambino said. “We were trying to see how close the fire was so we could be prepared.”
They were following a law enforcement vehicle when the fire closed in around them. “Trees were falling over,” Bambino said. “You could feel the heat from inside the car.” Bambino began videotaping the experience.
When the officer started to reverse quickly, Jordan, who was driving, immediately followed suit. “As we are backing up, we hear cries for help,” Jordan said.
Bambino said that he caught a glimpse of a little girl on the bank far above the road.
Below is the video he was taking. Part way through, the camera goes into Bambino’s pocket but it keeps recording the sounds of the woman and her daughter crying for help as they were being saved.
“As we were reversing, I see a little bit of the girl’s face,” Bambino explained. “I heard, ‘Help.'”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, someone needs help,” Bambino cried out.
When Jordan stopped the car, Bambino who was closest began running towards the mother and daughter while tossing his phone in his pocket. “I was running as fast I could,” he explained. “I see the mom holding onto the girl. She couldn’t hold on any longer…The baby girl let go.”
In the video, you can hear her screams.
He said he was just in time to catch her. He asked, “You okay?”
She can be heard on the video saying, “I thought I was going to die.”
As Bambino brought the girl to law enforcement, Jordan arrived just as the mother slipped and fell, too. “She tried to control herself,” Bambino explained. Then she came crashing down.
Jordan managed to catch her although that isn’t captured on the video.
Then to their horror, the woman cried out that she was worried about her father. The two men jumped back in their vehicle and raced up the side road towards where they thought the woman’s home was located. But once there it was difficult to tell which house they needed to get to. Eventually, they managed to drive close to what they believed was the right place but the home was engulfed. They couldn’t get inside and had to give up while hoping the woman’s father had escaped.
Meanwhile, the woman and her daughter were taken to be checked out.
But that didn’t end the two men’s struggle. They hurried back to the place they were staying. The home of a third friend. “We were trying to save my friend’s home for three days after that,” Bambino said.
They fought the fire with “shovels, fire extinguishers, and water hoses,” according to Jordan. Their friend also had a small piece of equipment, a bobcat, that he used.
“We were throwing mounds of dirt on top of the fire,” Bambino said. “We were surrounded by [flames].”
See the video below as they fought the towering flames partially by hosing down the area around their friend’s home and his neighbor’s.
They tried to help save other homes but aren’t sure whether they succeeded. “I know we saved two houses for sure, yes, ma’am,” Jordan stated.
Several days later, Bambino got in touch with the woman and her daughter who were not badly injured. Bambino said that she explained that her father had been able to escape up another gully and made his way out safely, too. Their home had not burned.
The woman, who declined to be interviewed sent Bambino this message,
Thank you and your friend so much for stopping and helping me and my daughter from falling off the cliff. I am forever great full for it. Thank you so much. It really is so great that there are people like you guys that are willing to jump into action in an emergency. Thank you thank you.
After the interview, Bambino later wrote and asked if this article could include that he has a daughter named Giana. “It was a fatherly instinct as well as human instinct” when faced with the two fleeing the fire to rush and save the falling girl even though flames were all around, he said.
Other links to our coverage of the Helena Fire:
- Hwy 299 Closed at Helena Due to Fire
- A 17-Year-Old Mendocino Girl Recounts How She and Friends Fled the Helena Fire in Trinity County
- Hwy 299 Still Closed After 6000 Acre Wildfire Burned Homes and Sent Around 2000 Residents Fleeing
- Smoke Levels Near Helena Fire on 299 Are Hazardous
- Helena: Maps and 299 to Remain Closed
- Governor Brown Declares State of Emergency for Trinity County Due to Wildfire
- Helena Fire Disrupts Frontier Communications’ Service
- Helena Fire Pushes Toward Junction City After Destroying Over 140 Structures; Fork Fire Spreads West
- Helena and Fork Fires: Maps and Morning Update