Life Here

September 10, 2020 By Julie Turner

Paradise Valley Estates Crew Joins Fight Against LNU Lightning Complex Blaze

Everyone in the Paradise Valley Estates Life Plan Community knows Dave. For six years, the community’s friendly maintenance supervisor has been a project point man, from serving as planner and scheduler to ensuring residents are pleased with the end result.

When surprises pop up, planners like Dave are already prepared. That’s exactly what happened when Northern California’s massive LNU Lightning Complex fire threatened the community’s campus in mid-August.

The fire began when lightning ignited a series of small fires in the Napa area around August 17. By August 19, many small fires had converged, creating a huge wildfire that was racing toward the Fairfield, Vacaville and Paradise Valley area.

While residents were evacuated before the fire’s arrival, a small crew of team members stayed behind to deploy a series of counter measures — protocols first established by maintenance director Frank Yates in 2018.

First, Dave says, came fire preventive sprinklers. As the system soaked the community’s perimeter, the “fire brigade” rolled out water hoses to meet the fire should it cross the hillside. Paul Guzman was the first to spot flames from a perch on top of the 3000 building.

“As soon as he saw it, Paul called out on the radio and the maintenance crew ran over to fight the fire,” says Dave. This fire was scarier than anticipated, admits Dave, but the maintenance crew never faltered. “We knew we were risking our lives to protect the residents and their homes,” he says. “I couldn’t have been prouder when the fire chief came by and I heard him radio that this section was taken care of.”

With the fire line controlled, the brigade helped finish the evacuation of Laurel Creek and Quail Creek, packed wheel chairs and supplies for sheltering residents in Sacramento, and assisted nurses and drivers. At 1:30 am, the community was safe. By sunrise, the brigade was already back on campus, helping residents return to their untouched homes safely.

When it came to thanking the many team members for their service during the wildfire, Dave was again right on the front line, this time serving his famous tacos at a thank you lunch in early September.

While Dave freely talks about his fire-fighting experience, his taco secrets are not for sharing. “My secret is that I’m happy to make them for my coworkers and friends, and especially to be able to work side by side with my son David, Jr., who also works at Paradise Valley Estates,” says Dave.

David Ponce Headshot


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