Off-duty firefighters working overtime to save Sumner homes

Off-duty firefighters around the region came to the rescue on their days off to save homes threatened by the Sumner Grade Fire Tuesday and Wednesday.

Firefighters have been working around the clock, on the clock, to fight the brush fire between Sumner and Bonney Lake, which has burned 800 acres, destroyed four homes and forced hundreds of evacuations. 

But when a wall of flames threatened at least two homes on Elhi Rim Road, the homeowner of one of them, a firefighter himself, sprang into action.

First-time homeowner and Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority firefighter Jordan McClain had made the decision to stay put and defend his home, despite the Level 3 evacuation order, an urgent measure to “get out now.” 

His neighbors, the Taylors, had reluctantly packed up and left their own dream home of more than two decades when it looked like the fire was going to consume it.

“It was just coming at us like a football field full of fire,” Doug Taylor said. “It was very, very frightening. I thought when we left we’d never see this again.”

“Comes to a point in life when things are beyond your control and you just have to put it in God’s hands,” Taylor said, choking back tears.

His neighbor, McClain, would end up being his - and his home’s - saving grace.

“It’s been a rough 2020 so we all got to look out for each other,” McClain said.

McClain sent a text for help, calling on his firefighter brethren to help him hold the wall of fire threatening his and his neighbor’s homes. Dozens of firefighters from around the region answered the call, showing up in their free time, some in-between shifts.

“It speaks to the brotherhood of the fire service,” McClain said. “I don’t know anywhere else where you can send out a text and have 40 guys responding within an hour to be here.”

Working hand in hand with neighbors, the volunteer force got to work, using garden hoses and donated equipment to fend off the flames. 

“These guys are just heroes, that’s all you can say, they’re in the top 1 percent,” Taylor said.

The selflessness of the off-duty firefighters who rushed in to help and the tireless work of on-duty firefighters has so far saved these families’ pieces of paradise while the earth burns around them.