Quick thinking by a Nevada County Connects bus driver put a stop to what could have been a dangerous fire on Highway 49 near Reader Ranch Road south of North San Juan Thursday evening.
Ahmer Al-Kayyali, of Lake of the Pines, was driving up Highway 49 to North San Juan without passengers shortly after 6pm when he saw a fire on the side of the road.
He got out his fire extinguisher from the bus, jumped out and sprayed the fire, then stamped on the ground to make sure the flames were all the way out. “You could see the fire was getting bigger,” he said. “It didn’t take long.”
Then a passerby told him there were two other small fires further up along the road. He immediately ran back to his bus and radioed into his office to get help. His supervisor Steven Long then called 911 and CalFIRE.
A UPS driver who happened to be there also pulled out a fire extinguisher and attempted to get the fire out. As both their extinguishers were running out of flame retardant, fire fighters arrived at the scene and eventually put out a total of four spot fires.
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office briefly issued evacuation orders for two zones in the area and then lifted them by 7:15pm.
Al-Kayyali is grateful that the fire didn’t become a bigger threat to area residents. “I’m just happy they were able to put them out,” Al-Kayyali said.
Al-Kayyali has worked for Nevada County Connects for two years. Long said he and his whole department are proud of Al-Kayyali’s actions. “I thought it was amazing,” Long said. “We pat him on the back.”