On Thursday, July 7, at l0 a.m., I was driving down the San Jacinto Mountains from the small village town of Idyllwild. It was a beautiful sunny day. The road is mostly curves and I have traveled it for over 26 years with God’s guidance.

I was 20 minutes down the Hill going to Hemet to meet my adult children and grandchildren for lunch at Marie Callenders, a happy experience. Suddenly I spotted a fire on the side of the road and heading for the gully below.

A fire there could wipe out homes and burn for days. I turned around, parked across the road, away from the fire.

A lady in a shiny black car also stopped. “Are you calling 911?” I asked.

“Yes, but they are asking the location and I don’t know what to say,” she replied.

“Two miles up the mountain from Cranston Station,” I said.

The man on the phone was having trouble getting the position where we were. Finally he understood and said, “They’re on their way.”

Opening the back of my Toyota pickup, I grabbed a package of 24 bottles of water. One gentleman and three other ladies joined me and all of us focused on putting the fire out with the water being squirted a bit on the front of the fire.

Our water brigade kept the fire from going farther down the gully.

“Now,” one lady exclaimed, “can you imagine four ladies in sandals putting out a roadside fire? Also, one gentleman dressed in his hospital garb trying to get to his job at the hospital.”

We spread dirt and sand on the whole area after we ran out of water and proceeded to douse more flames. We did not know each other, but a few minutes of bonding went into the project at hand.

Then along comes the [California] Highway Patrol and we could hear the sirens coming up the Hill not far away.

Our part of the job completed, we stood in a natural circle and thanked each other for a job well done. I wish I had gotten their name. It was just another day on a mountain with people who care, doing a job that needed to be done.

As the firefighters looked in awe at the small group, the CHP officer thanked all of us and we each went our own way.

Joy Latarte Allgeier
Pine Cove