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Brothers fight Soberanes Fire to save family ranch




Donna Dormody watches as the Soberanes Fire overtakes her family's ranch in Carmel, California.
Donna Dormody watches as the Soberanes Fire overtakes her family's ranch in Carmel, California.
Bruce Dormody

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The Soberanes Fire has destroyed thousands of acres in the Big Sur area. One beloved vacation enclave, San Clemente Rancho is safe from fire and back open for business, thanks to the brothers who run it.

Bruce, Hank and Eric Dormody rolled up their sleeves and took action into their own hands. Together, and later on with the help of firefighters the Dormody brothers fought back the impending flames.

Take Two’s Alex Cohen spoke with Bruce Dormody, owner of the San Clemente Rancho to hear what it was like to personally face down the still raging Soberanes Fire.

We saw it right off the bat. My brothers saw the smoke plume probably hours after it started and it was coming from a direction that normally fires don’t come towards us. We adjoin the Los Padres National Forest in the Ventana Wilderness and we are on its northern border. Normally, fires start in the forest from a lightening strike or something and they burn up to us and there’s very well established fire breaks that would stop it eventually..... And we pretty much immediately knew, we had to start doing something because it might be a week but its going to get here.  

We have these bulldozers on property because it’s a big ranch...and we just started making our own firebreaks on the ridge tops which we thought were most conducive to fight the fire if and when it would get to us.

To finish our lines, we needed some hand breaks done when it was just too steep of country through a ravine - a gorge in this creek area and once we kind of told them [CalFire] what we were doing and once they bought off on it, they were in. Within minutes, jumped in with full hand crews and were working away with it.

It was just kind of marching slowly us so you cold kind of fight it with a little more confidence up until the last few minutes when they started doing back fires to really contain it and stop it on our line. We stepped away back, let the firefighters do their job and they did it terrifically but the whole time it was getting closer, the worst effect was the smoke. It was just choking smoke for weeks.

I was just protecting my home too, so its just something I think anybody would do and they just are so grateful and so appreciative it kind of makes you cry. Now people are coming back up and we expect a pretty good weekend.