Two years after the horrific fires destroyed a large section of Sonoma County, I am reminded of the Heroes that we honored in a film you can watch by clicking on this link—
Seldom in life does the opportunity to drop everything and do whatever is necessary to save lives and property happen. Two years ago, that opportunity happened to our community, and to our industry and to our ECA brothers and sisters. Although decisions were made, because of the kind of threat we were confronted with, and because of the type of character we have, there really was no choices but to make those decisions. Business owners and individuals made the decision to jump in and do whatever it took to help people escape, to help try to save houses, and to help first responders and National Guard troops to keep safety and order in the fire zone. ECA business owners and employees did not consider their own “bottom line”, and in many cases, their own safety. They just reacted and kept helping people and the community. They had the expertise, the people, the equipment, and the ability to mobilize those resources to deal with the threat. And that they did.
Within minutes, owners were calling employees, employees were calling owners, all to allow them to get water tenders, water trucks, dozers and people out to insure safety and mitigate fire damage to houses and entire neighborhoods.
Here we are 2 years later, and many of the 5,400 houses are under construction and or rebuilt. An historic fire cleanup was undertaken and accomplished by many of those same ECA members who selflessly reacted in the middle of the night on October 8 to save property and lives. Care and consideration was given by our men and women doing the cleanup, and small acts of kindness went a long ways to impact fire victims. Finding a diamond ring in the debris, treating the property with respect, working with Army Corps no matter how frustrating, and handling the safety of their workers all turned many firms away from business as usual to a committed workforce that was determined to get fire victims back into their homes as quickly as possible.
I hope you watch the video again. Let’s remember who the heroes are amongst us. Every day guys and gals, doing what they can. And what they could. And what a difference they made to our community. I remember handing out flowers at the Coffey Park Holiday celebration that was put together in just a few days, and seeing fire victims cry in gratitude to get a bouquet of flowers or a Christmas tree on their burned out lot. A lot of emotion and a feeling of community was established for the world to see. We stepped up and the world noticed.
From the first, our ECA members like BoDean, NorthWest, Argonaut, Team Ghilotti, Ghilotti Construction and many others, jumped into the situation and had employees risk their own lives, risked their own equipment, and do whatever they could to guide people to safety, save houses, provide shelter to victims and National Guard alike, and generally show the world what true heroes they were.
I have watched this video that was masterfully shot and edited by Don Mills and Sound Ideas and his staff. It never fails to remind me of the sheer terror, confusion, and compassion our guys and gals exhibited.
Some actions were very visible. Some were not so public. All of the contributions united our ECA family and united our community. Hundreds of individual acts of compassion and support bound our community like never before:
*James Gore commented on how the crisis led to “Courage and Capacity” and he is correct. An amazing effort was needed to make sure most people escaped the inferno safely, as well as great efforts to augment firefighters with our ECA member water trucks, dozers, and even a converted hydroseeding truck that had a water cannon on top.
*BoDean employees risked their own lives to assist folks from the Mark West area to get away from the fire.
*Ghilotti Construction Company mobilized with water trucks immediately and today they are still helping the community. Press Democrat link
*NorthWest was onsite helping fire fighters with their water trucks
*Argonaut threw equipment and personnel into the fray immediately
*Team Ghilotti was quick to react, and continued to help long after October 8
*Dave Soiland was on the fire front lines doing all he could to help people
*Mark Soiland stepped up and did all he and his firm could to assist
*Rod Sichel took his water wagon and a few guys and maybe saved most of Montecito Heights and Proctor Heights and Brush Creek Road from destruction
*Ghilotti Brothers got here quickly and selflessly
*others jumped into the inferno and did everything they could to help in any way they could help.
*Individuals, like “Tiny” Jeff Green of GCC, Shawn Soiland, Robert Lindsay of BoDean, Aaron Brown of GCC, Dave Soiland, Rodney Sichel, Mark Cresta, Dale Mahoney, Chris Wilson, ED Nessinger drove water trucks, dozed fire breaks, escorted people to safety and made a huge difference to a lot of people
*Nunley did all they could while losing their own house
*Glenn Smith and countless others leapt into action with little or no regard for their own personal safety and saved lives. Glenn saved his own house with his brother Gordon using hoses, shovels, and rakes then went over and saved neighbor Rob Muelrath’s house.
*Willie Ghilotti and GCC housing 250 National Guard members and providing toilets, showers, food and all other comforts and assistance they needed to do their jobs
*I remember calling Dave Soiland to see if he could get a pump and some hose to a friend’s house on Petaluma Hill Road so if the fire came, he had something to pull water out of his pool to help save his house
*There were many others and the community thanks you, I thank you, and we all know why we did what we did-because it was the right thing to do. We had no choice.
To the owners of the ECA Companies, Mike Smith Jr., Dick Ghilotti, the late great Glen Ghilotti, Mark Soiland, Dave Soiland, Dean and Bo, Willie Ghilotti, and others-thank you for stepping up to show the local residents and the world what it means to be an engineering contractor. You had the resources, and you turned them loose with quality guys and you saved houses and entire communities.
As we currently endure a widespread power outage to be safe in high fire danger weather, it is a very good time to remember back two years ago how we all came together to do what needed to be done. As Shawn Soiland said-“it was a time where the Good Ole Boys Were Back”.
Please take a moment to watch the video and remember how we came together to lend meaning to the words – “FROM THE ASHES, WE WILL RISE”.
I was never prouder to be an ECA Member. Thanks to all of you!!!! Heroes!
That’s all folks!