On March 5, Idyllwild resident Robert Peek, a ranger at Mt. San Jacinto State Park, received the California State Park Rangers Association’s Award of Valor for saving a life.
Nearly a year ago, just before sunrise on Easter morning, March 31, Peek was awakened by a sound similar to a gunshot outside his Idyllwild house. His bedroom was lit bright orange from the flames coming from the house across the street.
Quickly dressing, he rushed to the house engulfed in flames in order to be sure his friend and neighbor Paul Colucci was safe. “The flames were 20, 30 and 40 feet high,” Peek said.
Finding no open doors, he peered in the back and saw Colucci asleep in bed. Peek yelled but heard no response. Going through the glass doors, which opened with a push, Peek saw the bedroom was full of smoke. But Peek was able to rouse Colucci and escort him out of the house to safety.
He then returned to smother the flames approaching the propane tank.
Idyllwild Fire arrived and extinguished the fire but couldn’t save Colucci’s house.
Early last week, Peek received a special invitation from the association’s president to attend the annual meeting in Yosemite National Park. Since he had already made reservations to attend the meeting, he had nothing to do but enjoy the dinner where he received the association’s annual Award of Valor for his heroic actions last year.