Beer Saves California Man’s House From Wildfire

  • It really there’s a hero in each of us, even in watered-down light beer

Extreme situations require extreme measures. A California man’s quick-witted response to the LNU Lightning Complex Fires has saved his house and redeemed his taste in beer.

More precisely, Charles Little from Vacaville used cans of Bud Light beer to ward off the encroaching flames of a wildfire that threatened to consume his home that was still under construction.

People tend to make fun of light beers, and arguably for good reason. But in this case at least, my hat goes off to Bud Light. It is good for something, after all.

The fires reached Little’s house on Vacaville’s ironically named Pleasant Valleys Road on Wednesday morning. He told The Reporter that he and his family had been prepared and packed most of their things.

Only, Little himself refused to leave his house, telling his family to go on without him.

“I had a lot of friends and family trying to fight with me to get me to leave, but I wasn’t gonna do it,” he said.

Little’s reluctance to let his house burn down is understandable, considering that he had that exact thing happen to him five years earlier. In 2015, his house was torched by a spark from malfunctioning fan in his attic.

Little and his family weren’t home at the time, so they escaped unscathed. Their house, and everything in it, wasn’t so lucky though. Nothing remained.

After battling insurance companies for five years, Little wasn’t about let history repeat itself. He’d wrangled with lawyers and insurance agents. Facing the raging fire was a walk in a park compared to that.

“I spent five years getting to this point. I’m not going to start over from ground one,” said Little.

The unlikeliest of all heroes.

‘Like a Warzone’

As the fires crept closer to his house, Little initially relied on good old-fashioned water. He set off his sprinklers and used water hoses to ward off the flames, wetting the ground and extinguishing what he could.

It was a good plan, but then he hit a slight snag. Solano Irrigation District decided to shut off water in the area.

In the blink of an eye, the water barrier around Little’s home disappeared.

“I got scared,” summarized Little. “It was kind of like an eye-opening that I could be in trouble.”

In an interview with KCRA 3, he said that this was when the propane tanks that everyone in the area had next to their houses started exploding in the heat.

“It was just like a warzone. Boom, boom, the fires were just going crazy,” he said.

Left without running water, Little resorted to raking and shoveling dirt and using what little water he had in a small barrel. But the results were poor, and when the fires started heading towards his workshop, desperation set in.

Little employs himself as a steamfitter and welder, and conducts his business out of the workshop. Losing it would’ve meant losing his livelihood.

He looked around for water, juice, anything. Anything that was liquid and could extinguish the flames.

Then he spotted it. A 30-pack of Bud Light beer.

The Bud Light at the End of the Tunnel

The beer case was an unlikely weapon against the fire, but it was all Little had. Without hesitating, he grabbed it.

“That was the only thing I had that I had a lot of, and it was wet,” said Little. An apt description of Bud Light.

As an additional emergency measure, Little ripped some metal sheets off of the sides of his workshop to use as barricades. Armed with then and the beer, he turned to face the flames once more.

His plan was good, but ultimately didn’t work too well.

“When I first grabbed the cans of beer and ran down there, I was shaking them up and opening them up but it was just dispersing too quick,” he said.

Then, he noticed a nail sticking out of one of the metal sheets he’d brought down with him. That was the secret weapon he needed.

“When I saw that nail, I would just puncture a hole [to a beer can] and shake as I was going, and I could aim it and concentrate on the bad parts.”

Lo and behold, this time the beer did its job. While it wasn’t enough to keep the fire away completely, Little was able to slow the advance of the inferno down until a firetruck pulled into the neighborhood.

With the help of the firefighters and proper equipment, in addition to his beer, Little was finally able to get the fire under control. His carport did catch aflame and burned to the ground, but his house – and Little himself – stood defiant to the end and emerged unharmed.

Good Enough to Save His House, Good Enough for Him

Having saved his house, Little hasn’t remained resting on his laurels. Instead, he has been aiding his community and neighbors.

“I’ve been over at my neighbors, helping them get water to their house. At night, I’ve just been running around and putting out little smoldering fires. You can see them better at night,” he said.

Little’s children, particularly his daughter, had been traumatized by the fire in 2015. He said they’d been relieved to be able to return to their familiar home instead of a pile of ash and cinders like the last time.

Despite his heroics, Little can thank his lucky stars that he’s alive. In addition to Bud Light, we mean.

“My buddies always tease about drinking water-beer. But now I’ll say, ‘hey, it saved my shop’,” he said, chuckling, to KCRA 3.

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