Small Town Hero Saves Life During Rio Dell’s Busiest Weekend; Postal Worker Warns Neighbors of Fire Danger

Chief Shane Wilson with his daughter, Jayden, were in one of the lead vehicles, Rio Dell Fire’s command rig, in Saturday’s parade. [Photo provided by Lisa Wilson]

Two quick-thinking heroes saved a paraplegic man’s life when a house fire broke out in Rio Dell during the town’s annual Wildwood Day’s Parade on Saturday.

Fire trucks and law enforcement led the parade which started around noon. Local kids waved from the back of fire engines at the crowd. Meanwhile, a new postal delivery worker, Kodi Baker who has been on the job less than two months, was delivering mail on Ash Street in Rio Dell. She went to the door of a home and, according to her supervisor Katherine Coleman, could hear the snapping and cracking of a fire.

Quickly, she called 911 and reported the situation. Then, according to Coleman, “She went door to door notifying neighbors of the danger while waiting for the fire department to arrive.”

When the call came, the fire trucks loaded with children were only about four blocks away from the fire. “The parade stopped,” explained Assistant Rio Dell Chief Ryan Heussler. Quickly the crew unloaded the kids. The Chief’s daughter, Jayden Wilson, stayed with the approximately 15 kids while the rest of the crew raced to the scene where smoke billowed from a home on Ash Street. 

Heussler explained they had been to the home a couple of weeks earlier in order to help lift a paraplegic man who had fallen so they knew that the man could be trapped.

“The smoke was banked down to about five feet off the floor,” Heussler said. “[The Chief, Shane Wilson,] was down on his hands and knees…When I got there Shane looked at me….[He] was about five feet inside.”

Heussler said they could hear a man yelling for help. “The room that was on fire was between the front door and the victim,” Heussler said. “I grabbed one of the BA’s [a device that provides oxygen so firefighters can breathe while in smokey conditions]….I looked back to see if anyone coming. The guys were getting geared up.”

Chief Wilson didn’t yet have his device on, said Heussler. But, when Heussler looked back at his Chief, the man had disappeared into the smoke. “[Chief Wilson] just made that split second decision to make access…He had the courage to get that guy. He put his life on the line to save the life of a guy he didn’t even know.”

Rio Dell Chief Shane Wilson

Rio Dell Fire Chief Shane Wilson

Then, in a short time, Heussler said, “[The Chief] came barreling through the house with that guy in his arms…I swear it was like a movie the way he was coming out of the smoke carrying this guy.”

When Chief Wilson reached Heussler, he and one of the Fire Captains, Ben Heyda, carried the victim outside. “Shane got the guy to me,” Heussler said. “[Hayda] helped me continue the work that Shane started.”

Then while Wilson, a firefighter for Rio Dell for over 21 years, was treated for smoke inhalation, he continued to direct the firefighting, Heussler said.

The victim was taken to the hospital and was also treated for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire was “electrical related,” Heussler said.

“Hands down, without Shane there, that guy would have lost his life,” Heussler said. “His courage saved that guy’s life.”

According to Heussler, “[Chief Wilson’s] just a hell of a guy. He doesn’t take the credit that he deserves. He has been a mentor in my life.”

After putting out the fire, the crew then went back to Wildwood Days and helped. “We’ve done a lot of things together,” said Heussler. “Holy cow, I hope we never have to do this again.”

Coleman, the postal supervisor said that Kodi Baker has been nominated for a postal service hero award. We, here at the Redheaded Blackbelt, think both Baker and Wilson deserve recognition for their quick thinking and brave actions.




  • Yes!! Some good, heartwarming, feel good news. I needed that today.

  • Thank you Kodi and Shane. You are the best!

  • Yay, Kodi! Everybody at Branch 348 of the National Association of Letter Carriers is very proud of you and your service to the community.

  • Thank you so much!!! This is the humboldt i know and love, thanks for reminding us the meaning of community.

  • Hip hip hooray
    Hip hip hooray
    Heros for sure

  • Katherine Harvey

    Thank you all for your huge efforts in the fire during the parade. That is dedication!!! A Fortuna resident!!!

  • There are wonderful folks in our community that are willing to help others. God Bless them.

  • You are both amazing & deserve recognition!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! Our world is a better place with people like you!

    Thank you Kym for posting such a positive & inspiring story!!

    I am also appalled that only 8 other people commented on this story & there are so many disturbing & argumentative comments on every other post…. People seem to be more interested in negatively than the positive.

  • After all the terrible national news, it is so nice to read about our local heros. You can hate or you can love, and I’m glad there are guys like Shane who love their community and are willing to risk their lives protecting it.

  • Way to go!!

  • Kudos all around, and especially to the Chief and Ms. Baker.

    I needed this story of compassion and courage today. I suspect I’m not the only one.

  • NICE ❣

  • Let’s all stand and give them all around of applause!
    A shot in the arm of sunshine.
    I sincerely thank you.
    Too many firey deaths locally lately.
    Thank you.

  • Thinking allowed

    Thanks to Chief Wilson for his courage and sense of duty. And thanks to this website for reporting such an uplifting story. We are in desperate need of both.

  • Nice job Kodi and chief Wilson🎖🎖our HERO’S MOST EXCELLENT 🌟

  • Tear jerker for sure. Thank you all!!

  • What an amazing day, all coming together in harmony to save a life. The expression “Good job!!!” just isn’t enough, but will have to suffice. Great job Kodi and Chief Wilson!!

  • Great Story.

  • Spelling correction Kym. It’s Ben Heyda, not Hayda

  • Good people taking quick action that saved lives.. Thanks to Miss Baker and Shane Wilson’s unselfish actions.
    Shane has been Rio Dell’s Fire Chief for all the right reasons.. he is a really good man..period.
    Scotia also has a good man in Mr. John Broadstock.. These neighboring towns definitely have two of the best !

  • Pingback: Rio Dell – Scotia Chamber of Commerce | Community heroes help in fire

  • i’ve known shane many many years.since high school. one solid dude. high five bro!

  • Yes thank you very much I am so happy that they were able to react as fast as you did and get my father out of his house if you hadn’t been there in the parade and not seeing the smoke this could have been a completely different scenario and also like to let you know that my father is doing well and if possible I would love to me Baker and Wilson to thank them in person I am down from Eugene Oregon helping my father and moving him up to Oregon with me we will still be here about another week again thank you for both of you guys is quick reactions and courage

  • Reading that he was trapped inside and yelling for help really got to me (and needless to say – the whole incident). Thank God Kodi Baker was at the right place at the right time and heard the crackling of the fire! Thank goodness emergency vehicles were so close by at the parade. Thank goodness that Heussler knew that the resident was paraplegic and could be trapped inside, and Chief Wilson was courageous enough to go inside without his gear on and got him to Heussler and Hayda to carry him out! So many things played out perfectly to keep this from being deadly. Thank God everyone survived. I want to thank everyone…thank you, Baker, Heussler, Wilson, and Hayda!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE ALL HERO’S!

  • Oh my gosh, thank you so much for saving my uncle’s life!

  • This is amazing. I love this story.

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