Deadly California Wildfire Doesn't Stop This U.S. Postal Service Worker From Delivering Mail
"It looks like nothing I've ever seen before," Douglas Thron tells PEOPLE of the devastation following the Northern California wildfires
Douglas Thron was filming the devastation of the Northern California fires with his drone when he unexpectedly spotted a U.S. Postal Service worker delivering mail through the burnt-out ruins in a clean, white truck.
On Wednesday, one day after capturing the footage, the aerial videographer and photographer shared the harrowing video of the mail carrier driving around the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, an area that was almost completely destroyed in an out-of-control fire.
At least 31 people have been killed in the wildfires that have been burning across Northern California since Sunday.
“I was filming the aftermath of what had happened from the fires the following morning … and I see someone waving at the drone from the truck,” Thron tells PEOPLE about discovering the USPS worker, who wore a face mask.
The Oakland-based videographer, who has filmed wildfires since the 1990s, did not approach the USPS worker and has yet to meet the mystery deliverer.
“I don’t know him, it would be nice to meet him, I would love to,” he says. “It was heartbreaking to see it. This postman obviously knows those people intimately having delivered their mail for who knows how long. A lot of those people were his friends.”
As for why he thinks the USPS worker continued to deliver the neighborhood’s mail, Thron tells PEOPLE: “I heard by request of the homeowners. I would imagine they didn’t want their paychecks and whatever they wanted to get lost somewhere.”
“My whole purpose of filming was trying to show the devastation because this wasn’t a simple, typical fire. This was one that literally looks like a war zone that bombed random sections of miles of miles of the town,” he says.
“It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he adds.
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Thron explains he wanted to gather footage and show people the devastation from the wildfires, the deadliest to strike the state in more than 80 years.
“Hopefully [the video] will motivate people to help out, volunteer, donate and help all these people who are now homeless,” he says.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in several counties as the fires, which began on Sunday, swept through Northern California and urged Donald Trump to declare an official state of disaster to support local relief efforts.
“In less than 24 hours, more than 18 fires began burning in at least seven counties and have collectively burned more than 80,000 acres,” Brown wrote in a statement.
The fires continued well into Tuesday and Brown said that the flames grew so rapidly that residents had little time to leave their homes and flee to temporary shelters. He added that officials expect the number of deaths as a result of the fire to grow.