This I Believe By Conner McKinnon 1/26/09
On October 20th, 1991, a fierce fire struck the hillsides of northern Oakland and southeastern Berkeley. It is referred to as the Berkeley Firestorm. As many people know it was a devastating fire, burning neighborhoods. But some people protected their houses from the fire. Luckily, my grandfather was one of those people.
If you are an old 49ers fan, then you may recall a game being played October 20th, 1991. My grandpa has been a 49ers season ticket holder for a long time. Well, he was at the 49ers game, having a nice time, when he noticed smoke emitting from where he lives. So he drove all the way from San Francisco to his house in Oakland to find out the fire was only a couple of houses away. He ran past the Fire Safety Line to his house. By the time he got to his house the fire was already burning his neighbor’s house.
The nearby burning house was on a slant, making it around twenty feet higher then my grandpa’s house. So, instead of putting out the fire, he put tons of water on his roof. This made it so the fire didn’t jump onto his roof from the top of the slant. But this wasn’t the end to the fire story.
The fire wasn’t giving up. If the fire couldn’t jump onto his roof, it would travel on the ground through the fallen dried leaves. But my grandfather never gave up either. He warded off the fire many times until it finally gave up. He than ran into the house and began to call as many people as he could, including my mom. While he was on the phone with my mom the nearby houses began to explode. Every time a house blew up he would say, “There’s one,” and “There goes another one,”
I can’t even begin to imagine what was running through his mind. Watching my neighbor’s houses blow up would be hard for me to watch. But he courageously fought the fire, and saved his house.
To me, he is a hero. He fought the fire and defeated it, in a situation that most people would run. His house was one of the only ones still standing. Without his courage to protect his house, it would be like all the rest; burnt down and destroyed. To me, the definition of a hero is someone who fight does things that others would cower in fear from, and someone who fights for what they believe. I think that’s exactly what he did.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.