James Harkins: Marine refuses to evacuate home during wildfires, uses garden hose to combat flames

A firestorm that moved at about a mile a minute, scorched almost everything in its erratic path.

In the middle of it all, firefighters from at least twelve agencies, a photographer, and an old man.

The picture, immediately went viral on social media and to millions of homes on the L.A. Times.

Pulitzer prize-wining photojournalist Rick Loomis captured the image.

"You're just trying to put everything into a single image so that people who watch or view it can try to understand what's going on and that fire was just, you know, everywhere," Loomis said.

The man's name is James Harkins.

Harkins' renters told us they weren't surprised he was standing his ground in the hills.

"Well, whenever we need help, he helps us," said one tenant.

30 minutes of driving winding roads through scorched earth, and we found him.

Harkin recalls: "so around 1800 at night...it cooled down...the fire was over there on the other side of the mansion and it was not threatening anything.....and I see the flames are coming up this way and the fire department, they're doing their job and the fire department leaves to go do something else so I just grab the hose and keep everything wet down and so forth. So I'm down there about 6:30, I'd say. And this gentleman comes up and starts taking pictures. And I said 'I hope you're not going to get me in trouble taking all these pictures, because I thought he was from the sheriff's department or the fire department and they were going to say you can't be here and so forth. He says, 'no, I'm just from the los angeles times.' ok, fine, so I'm just going to do my job."

His neighbor escaped the flames but lost everything they left behind.

The sergeant major stood his ground.

Harkins gave this interview on one condition:

That we tell everyone he's not trying to be famous - he doesn't even know what "tweeter" is.

He's just taking care of his own, like any good Marine.


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