Newly released bodycam footage revealed a Butte County Sheriff deputy’s harrowing escape from a raging wildfire while attempting to save trapped residents in Paradise, California.
The footage shows Deputy Aaron Parmley traveling through the streets of Paradise as the destructive Camp Fire spread throughout the town on November 8. As the unrelenting flames burned down acres of homes, businesses and vegetation, Parmley attempted to find a group of four nurses from a nearby medical facility who needed help evacuating.
“Deputy Aaron Parmley was driving on Pentz Road in Paradise attempting to locate four nurses from Feather River Hospital who needed help evacuating,” the BCSO wrote in the intro of the video. “Flames were on both sides of the roadway and he couldn’t see more than ten yards in front of him.”
As he searched for the nurses, Parmley’s vehicle broke down, forcing him to look for the survivors on foot. According to the sheriff’s office, Parmley, feeling he was nearing certain death with the flames closing in, then turned on his body camera.
“His car became disabled, forcing him to get out and walk on foot,” the office said. “He activated his body-worn camera in hopes of capturing what he thought would be the last moments of his life.”
The video shows Parmley searching for the nurses through heavy smoke as embers rain down all around him. With his visibility diminished, Parmley moved forward until he located the nurses and helped them to safety with the help of a man driving a bulldozer.
The video, which was originally posted to the BCSO’s Facebook account, quickly garnered tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments that praised Parmley’s courage.
“I LOVE. YOU OFFICER… you totally reminded me of why I live in Paradise and wanna help rebuild,” wrote Facebook user Denise Ryan. “Thank you so much for keeping us safe.”
“We have an amazing Sheriff Department in Butte County,” wrote Angie Mastelotto. “Thank you for all you do!”
As of last Sunday, the Camp Fire was 100 percent contained more than two weeks after first sparking on November 8. The fire has left 88 dead and 249 people injured, Cal Fire reports. The fire decimated at least 19,000 buildings in Paradise and encompassing areas.
This week, heavy rain brought new threats of mudslides to residents affected by the blaze.
“We just can’t catch a break with it right now in the county,” Cal Fire battalion chief Patrick Purvis told CBS on Thursday. “I mean, we just go from fire season straight into floods, landslides.”