Weed, Calif. — 2 years ago, an unattended campfire on a dry windy day became the Boles Fire, threatening Weed elementary and destroying over 150 structures, many of them homes…
Retired Weed Fire Chief Darin Quigley said, “We lost the first home, around the same time I was arriving on scene, and I was only 30 seconds away from the fire.”
The day: September 14th 2014. The time: 1:42 p.m. Then Weed Fire Chief Darin Quigley had just gotten his hair cut when the call came in. “It was already transitioning into a big fire, it was spotting down the railroad tracks, extreme fire behavior, the wind was pushing it up towards the elementary school,” recalled Quigley.
What would become the Boles Fire tore through the town, taking 157 structures with it, including Quigley’s home. “It made it a really tough fire on me because one, losing my house, all my friends and not totally knowing if everyone had got out.”
The quick response of firefighters like former Chief Quigley and new Chief Kent Cunningham prevented a greater disaster as the fire approached the elementary school. “Immediately put them on buses, and we got them out of the area,” said Cunningham.
Two years later, the path of the Boles Fire leaves its mark on Weed Elementary. But for Principal Alisa Cummings, her staff, and Weed as a whole, today isn’t about what was lost. “By having this barbecue we kind of just celebrate that we made it through, we persevered and the only way we made that happen is as a community,” said Cummings. It’s about what was saved. “We have our priorities, and that day it became life over property, it’s always life over property but that day it became especially true.”
25-year-old Ronald Marshall pleaded guilty to starting the Boles Fire. He was released from prison in April after serving time since October of 2014.