BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. — In the peak of the summer heat, a FedEx driver stopped a fire from burning out of control in Borrego Springs. Fire officials say his quick thinking and actions that day saved structures and potentially even lives.
It was a typical day of deliveries for Ramon Martinez, until he was on the wrong street at the right time. Martinez was working his route out of order when he stumbled onto a situation he’s never encountered during more than two decades of deliveries.
“Once I turned on the street, I saw some smoke from the distance and I’m like — that’s not barbecue. As I got closer, I saw the fire. Bushes on fire, and the tree catching fire, and the gate,” said Martinez.
He immediately called 911 and jumped into action.
“I was banging on the garage door, yelling,” said Martinez.
With a gate surrounding the home and a german shepherd in the yard, Martinez moved on quickly. He ran to surrounding neighbors’ homes until one came outside and began spraying the fire with a hose.
Another neighbor eventually called the homeowner and to everyone’s surprise he was inside.
“He’s like Lupe, the house is on fire and I’m like, what?” said Lupe Agustin. He and his teen son walked out their front door disoriented.
“Smoke everywhere. I didn’t see the fire. I just saw a lot of smoke,” said Agustin.
As soon as Martinez saw fire trucks arrive, he left the area to continue his deliveries. Three months later, Agustin and Martinez got to meet for the first time, and Ramon is now being recognized by Cal Fire
It was well over 100 degrees in Borrego Springs that day with plenty of dry fuel ready to burn, and fire officials say Martinez’s quick actions made all the difference.
“Everybody is inside in their houses, in the air conditioners. So for him to just be driving down that road and be outside and see that fire when it first started and be able to dial 911, you know, initially our response started sooner,” said Nick Clements, Cal Fire Battalion Chief.
It’s still unclear how exactly the fire started, but one thing is certain — it was stopped before it could spread out of control.
“I like to think that I stopped something worse from happening that day. It was just something that I wish anybody hopefully would have done,” said Martinez.
That selfless action is a simple reminder for us all.
“He really saved us. Do what he did for me and it just pass it along,” said Agustin.
Martinez is being recognized by Cal Fire for his quick thinking Friday morning. After 21 years with FedEx, Martinez is also retiring next month — the same week as his birthday.