ON THE MORNING OF NOVEMBER 9, 2018, Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley and her wife, Hollyn Bullock left their home in Redondo Beach, dropped their children off at school, then drove north to Malibu Canyon. They were headed to the home of a close family member to assist with evacuation and brace the home for the fire’s arrival. They thought they were in for a few hours of brush clearing and home prep. The Woolsey Fire was on its way to becoming one of the most destructive wildfires in recorded history. Chief Crowley and her wife had no idea they were heading towards the firefight of their lives. Crowley is the department’s first female Fire Marshall. Her wife had recently retired as an apparatus operator after 28 years with the LAFD. Crowley and Bullock helped their family member evacuate safely, then spent the morning prepping homes and clearing brush from neighboring homes. As the fire drew nearer, Crowley and Bullock convinced the remaining homeowners to evacuate before it was too late. Crowley and Bullock decided to stay and protect as many homes as possible. In good conscience, they could not leave knowing the entire block would likely burn to ashes.
They weighed their risks and planned their meeting points. They knew they wouldn’t be able to call for back-up or additional fire resources. They had no cellular service. Just the two of them in their turnout gear, using shovels, buckets of pool water, and garden hoses, they split up and defended that neighborhood until their water supply ran out. Back and forth, from one home to another, Crowley and Bullock fought back the flames from porches and doorsteps. They battled through triple-digit temperatures, heavy smoke, and exhaustion. After 16 grueling hours, it was time to stand down. Together, Crowley and her wife saved 9 out of the 10 homes on that street. Deputy Chief Crowley is receiving the department’s Letter of Special Commendation for her off-duty actions to protect a Malibu Canyon neighborhood surrounded by wildfire.