Firefighter protected neighbors' homes as his burned

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - Although some homes were lost in one Southern California neighborhood, many residents say the damage could have been much worse had it not been for a local firefighter and his family.

Neighbors said that the reason so many of their homes are still standing is because of firefighter Mike Williams, who is stationed at Ventura County Fire Department Station 36 in Oak Park.

The Williams family did lose their home to the fire, but they escaped with their lives and the clothes on their backs, according to KTLA.

"This is the best street. Most everyone on this street has been here 15 years plus. It's just, we're really tight," said neighbor Lisa Solny. "Him and his wife went around here and they put out the spot fires that were happening with embers."

Solny said Mike put out two palm trees that caught fire in her front yard.

"He put out all the mulch on the ground, and then he turned around and his house was on fire and his wife was inside," Solny said. "And they took their dogs and they threw them in a Rubbermaid container and they escaped with nothing."

"We're so lucky that they're ok," Solny added, fighting back tears. "They're amazing. They are the most selfless people in the whole world. And right now, Mike is working Engine 36."

Mester met with other neighbors, who also spoke highly of the Williams family, saying that they take care of the neighbors and even watch people's dogs when they go on vacation.

The neighbors said the Williams family lost everything, but even as their home was burning down, Mike continued to make help his neighbors.

"Lisa called me from their van, hysterically crying, while Mike was still helping people," one neighbor told KTLA. "There's a disabled man on Churchwood that he was helping get out of his home before he would leave the neighborhood. They were the last ones to leave, barely with their lives."

Mike Williams wasn't available for an interview in his Oak Park neighborhood because he was out on the front lines, fighting the fire.