DUNSMUIR, Calif.– The Delta Fire is nearing full containment after several weeks of flames burned a little over 60,000 acres near Lakehead. During that time dozens of structures were destroyed including one man’s trailer which held all of his possessions.
Steve Pinzak lost everything and almost his own life if he hadn’t been running errands in Mt. Shasta earlier that morning of September 5. But it was what happened afterwards that was even more of a surprise.
“We worked together for about four or five years. About six years,” said Sam Blanton, a friend of Pinzaks.
Friendships never die and for Blanton that rings true.
“Steve was on there getting an interview through KRCR Channel 7 in Redding and I told my wife, ‘That’s Steve. I haven’t seen him in over 32 years,'” he said.
Working together as loggers, Blanton was happy to see Pinzak was still around. However under the circumstances, it was less than fortunate.
“We got out of there just as the flames were on my flat,” said Pinzak recalling the days events. “In fact, there were little spot fires already starting. I got out of there with a pair of slippers and a shirt and pants.”
Pinzak says the Delta Fire destroyed everything he owned. Personal items, family photos – all up in flames.
“It’s a total loss. I mean it was just a pile of ash,” he said. “Ash and molten aluminum.”
Hearing this, Blanton realized he needed to do something for his old friend.
“I know that motels are expensive and I didn’t know if FEMA was going to help, which they haven’t yet and so I just offered my home to him and said, ‘Come on down and stay here till you get all this together,'” he said.
For both men, it’s been an opportunity to reconnect and learn about some of the hardships they’ve faced. Such as Pinzak’s disability after suffering an accident while he was logging that caused damage to his spine.
“Yeah I got crushed between a log and a loader tire with a D7 pushing on the other end of it,” he said.
The injury forced him into retirement and without a chance for a job. He says he has some surgeries coming up to possibly help resolve some of the issues but with a lost home and no work things are difficult. But he’s grateful for the family and friends he can count on.
“It was difficult at first but then with Sam getting a hold of me and my daughter – it’s been working out,” he said. “So I’m optimistic.”
Some say friendships never die and this one definitely won’t.
“I won’t ever let this friendship lapse again,” said Blanton. “We’re gonna be up and down the road, barbecue here and barbecue there. Go fishing. We used to go fishing in Shasta Lake and we’re still gonna do that, we’re gonna get back into that too.”
Blanton has also started a GoFundMe to help raise money to buy Pinzak a new trailer to live in. You can donate at the GoFundMe page found here.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.