Mayor Duane Strawser presents the photo taken during the Detwiler Fire to Chief Sam Goodspeed. Photo: YubaNet

NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 23, 2017 – During tonight’s City Council meeting in Nevada City, council members welcomed home Fire Chief Sam Goodspeed after he and the rest of a Nevada County strike team returned safely from the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County. The Chief was presented with a now iconic photo of the fire, featuring… Sam Goodsped.

Mayor Duane Strawser prefaced the reading of the certificate of recognition by saying he is a Mariposa native, the Detwiler Fire was a harrowing experience for him and his whole family. The proud Mariposa Grizzly was relieved when he got word his father’s home had survived the fire, thanks to the efforts of firefighters from all over California and beyond.

The Detwiler Fire was reported on July 16th around 4pm. Burning 15 miles northwest of Mariposa, the fire burned over 11,000 acres in the first 24 hours. In the very early morning hours of July 18th, a strike team from Nevada County left to fight the blaze. These strike teams are part of the mutual aid system in California where local state and federal resources will respond to an incident, regardless of who “owns” the fire.

That strike team was composed of engines from local fire departments:

Brush 57 Peardale/Chicago Park
Engine 52 Ophir Hill
Brush 23 Higgins
Brush 29 Consolidated Fire
Engine 5464 Nevada City and led by Chief 5700 Peardale/Chicago Park.

The Town of Mariposa was evacuated on July 18th at 12:26pm.

Upon arrival in Mariposa County, the local strike team was first tasked with holding contingency lines, then was assigned to structure protection. Peardale/Chicago Park PIO Daniel Ramey sent a brief update saying they successfully defended 12 homes from the oncoming fire.

Close to 11 pm that night, photographer Josh Edelson made his way to Guadalupe Road. Josh is a photographer for Agence France Press (AFP) and the Associated Press (AP) He captured the extreme fire behavior, the ominous glow and embers on hillsides and the destruction wrought by a fire that would end up consuming 81,826 acres and destroy 63 residences, 67 minor structures and 1 commercial structure. The fire was finally 100% contained on Monday, August 21st.

Photo by Josh Edelson,

Edelson also captured images of firefighters saving people’s homes. One of the photos he posted on his social media feed was captioned thus: Firefighter Sam Goodspeed of Nevada City Fire department looks towards approaching flames as the Detwiler fire rages on near the town of Mariposa, California on July 18, 2017. The photo was featured in the LA Times and made its way into reports about the fire in Europe.

After Edelson learned through YubaNet that Firefighter Sam was the Chief of Nevada City’s Fire Department he was happy to have one of the frames printed to be presented to Chief Goodspeed. “You guys did a seriously awesome job out there on Detwiler,” he said in an email.

Welcome home Chief!

Chief Goodspeed recounted getting the call up for the strike team at 2 am and they left shortly thereafter. The drive took a few hours and then they were assigned to structure protection, firefighter speak for saving homes and buildings. He had been awake for 30 hours when the picture was taken, “somewhere it said ‘staring down the fire’ this was more the thousand-yard stare,” Goodspeed chuckled.