80 Children Trapped As Wildfire Closes In, Then They See An Object Coming Through The Flames
LifeAspire Staff 7/21/2017
California is known for its ravaging wildfires that sweep up homes and ranches, leaving behind ashes and debris in its frightening wake. But recently, the Whittier Fire that destroyed property and filled campgrounds with smoke and ashes in Santa Barbara County caused a large group of children to fear for their lives as flames licked perilously close to them.
Rescue workers caught wind of a large group of children who were trapped at Circle V Ranch Camp while the wildfire swallowed up buildings and trees around them. When the fire broke out near Lake Cachuma, all campgrounds in its area were evacuated. Those campgrounds had extensive numbers of kids there for summer camp.
But because the Circle V Ranch Camp is located approximately two miles up the road from a main highway that was engulfed in flames and buried with debris, the kids at the ranch camp had no way to escape.
Rescue workers and law enforcement officers kept trying to make their way up the highway to reach the kids, but the active fire kept blocking their path. An unidentified forest service employee managed to make his way to the kids and stayed with them, attempting to calm the incredibly frightened children.
That employee also ushered the kids to an open AstroTurf field where they waited for five hours until help could arrive. The 80 trapped children's hero of the day happened to be Mark Von Tillow, division chief for the Santa Barbara District of the Los Padres National Forest and incident commander for the Whitter Fire.
The manner in which Mark was able to spare the children's lives took the form of a big fire-battling bulldozer. Since Mark knew the camp's layout and the area's terrain, he told his employee who miraculously managed to make his way to the camp site to corral the kids to that open field and wait there.
Mark also solemnly broke the news to his employee that if the rescue crews didn't get to them in time, he was to have all of the kids jump into a nearby pool in an attempt to avoid the flames and to save themselves.
Mark then ordered an aircraft to drop fire retardant around the perimeter of the camp and sent a big bull dozer up the highway, clearing off debris and fighting flames as it trudged its way to the camp. Rescuers followed behind the bulldozer in a parade of vehicles.
"We accounted for all of the kids, and loaded them up. The dozer came to the front of the line and cleared the road on the way out with all of the other cars in tow. This place was still on fire, trees were falling and rocks were moving. It was very heroic work."
Facebook/Beth Farnsworth KEYT
Mark admitted that the rescue effort was risky, but there was no way he was going to allow 80 children to perish without trying everything he possibly could to save them. Those children surely had guardian angels watching out for them until help could arrive.
It was truly miraculous that Mark's plan worked and the children were spared from perishing in such a horrific manner. Prayers go out to everyone in California who is still battling the wildfires.
Sources: KEYT-TV FB Image Credit: Facebook/Santa Barbara Independent, Facebook/KEYT-TV