Jai Odyssea, hero of the North Fire, recognized by Tahoe National Forest

Deputy Forest Supervisor Liz Berger, Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano, Jai Odyssea and Yuba River District Ranger Lon Henderson. Photo: YubaNet

NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 10, 2018 – During a short ceremony today, the Tahoe National Forest presented a certificate of recognition (and a coveted TNF jacket) to Jai Odyssea, known to many simply as “the hero of the North Fire.”

As a seasonal Recreation Specialist for the Tahoe National Forest, Jai was on duty this Labor Day weekend near the North Fork Campground on the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River. His quick thinking and actions led to fire resources being able to attack the North Fire rapidly, ultimately containing it at under 1,200 acres – as opposed to a major conflagration crossing I-80 and threatening or destroying residential structures.

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Jai rescued a stranded person in the river and managed to evacuate a group of people having a great time near the campground and not too concerned with the fast-growing wildfire right behind them. He credited his training on how to use the radio – having never had to use it before – as an important part of the response. “Thanks Ethan for the training, I’m glad I remembered how to use the radio, thanks to you,” Odyssea said as District Ranger Lon Henderson recounted how the initial sizeup  of the fire provided by Jai triggered the massive resource dispatch.

“What is a hero? It’s somebody who steps up to the plate when it’s in front of them.” Henderson said, pointing to Jai. Deputy Forest Supervisor Liz Berger spoke about the reaction and comments from the public, after the story was published. All in all, over 250,000 people read the story in the news or on social media, proving that good news does make headlines. Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano remarked the opportunity to change the world for the better is a daily occurrence in the Forest Service and a great reason to be part of the organization.

Congratulations again Jai on the well-deserved recognition.

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