Local Historian, 84, Battles Flames With Hose Before Being Rescued in Blue Cut Fire - NBC Southern California
California Wildfires

California Wildfires

Coverage of brush fires across the state

Local Historian, 84, Battles Flames With Hose Before Being Rescued in Blue Cut Fire



    USDA: Washing Raw Chicken Puts You at Risk for Illness
    John Hockaday uses a garden hose as flames from the Blue Cut Fire approach his home in the Cajon Pass on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

    An 84-year-old historian of the Cajon Pass who uses a walker and is hard of hearing miraculously survived flames from the ferocious Blue Cut Fire that swept over his remote home Tuesday, family members said.

    John Hockaday, who has penned books about the Cajon Pass and Route 66, wrapped his head in wet rags and held a hose with water from an emptying tank as the fire swept over his property and burned several cars, said his cousin Ron Snow.

    Snow said he was watching an NBC4 live stream of the fire as flames surrounded Hockaday's house and reached out to the newsroom who contacted dispatch to get rescuers to Hockaday's location in a canyon called Lost Lake.

    "He was surrounded by fire," Snow said. "Fire crews were dispatched. Now he's safe."

    Hockaday could not immediately be reached for comment, but fire officials confirmed that rescuers were sent to his home and evacuated him to a nearby safe zone. There, he waited for firefighters to mop up embers so he could assess the damage to his property, Snow said.

    Snow said the house was still standing and he was coordinating with his sister who lives in nearby Crestline to go see Hockaday.

    "It's tough to get in touch with him," Snow said. "He's not a high-tech guy."

    Snow said Hockaday is a fairly well known historian who's written books about the area where he lives. Snow said Hockaday didn't learn to read and write until he was well into his 60s.

    "He was just trying to save his house," Snow said. "His whole life is in that house."

    Get the latest from NBC4 anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android