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The Man Who Beat Back the California Wildfires with Nothing But a Case of Bud Light

And he's just the latest in a foamy, smoky history of men fighting fire with beer

It was roughly 6:40 a.m. last Monday morning when lightning struck the dry grasslands. The golden hills of Napa and Sonoma counties were ripe for fire after the summer’s extended heatwave. Not surprisingly then, that crack of lightning kick-started an ever-monstrous (and ongoing) blaze. Within hours, it spread rapidly through the dry brush and rushed into neighboring Lake, Solano and Yolo counties. 

According to Cal Fire, the LNU Lightning Complex fire is currently only 27 percent contained, and to date, it’s consumed 352,913 acres and 930 structures (with another 30,500 structures at risk). In fact, it’s the third-largest wildfire in the state’s history.

On Wednesday, though, Chad Little of Vacaville, decided to face down its flames all by his lonesome. 

He’d lost his home five years earlier to an attic fire, and now the rebuild of his replacement residence was nearly complete. Little’s family had evacuated, but he refused to let any wildfire threaten his new place. Not again. Instead, he would stay and fight. The problem was that the water had been turned off in his neighborhood, so none of the many hoses he had arranged around his property worked. “I had one barrel with a little bit of water in it and I tried using that, but it didn’t work,” Little told local news station KCRA.

Thus, he was forced to improvise. He looked around and found that he had a nail and some cases of Bud Light. “When I ripped up the sheet metal, it had a nail, so I was just shaking it up, popping it and spraying them [at the lick of the wildfire’s flames],” he explained to the NBC affiliate. “I was popping it out and grabbing another one.”

Surprisingly, it worked. When firefighters finally arrived, they found Little safe, and his home still standing. He just didn’t have anything to offer them to drink. 

In doing so, he joined a proud tradition of men who have fought fire with, um, beer. There was, for instance, the German man who was motoring on the Autobahn when he smelled something funny. He pulled over and spotted flames raging under the hood of his car. He quickly grabbed the beer he had with him and used it to douse the flames. Again, once firefighters got to the scene, there was nothing left for them to do.

And back in 2014, Craig Moreau, a Houston fire captain, was driving home on a Texas highway when he spotted an 18-wheeler burning on the side of the road. He stopped to help and soon learned that the truck’s load was Coors beer. About that same time, the truck’s tires started to explode. But Moreau was a quick thinker — he ordered the driver to open up the trailer. The two men grabbed all the cans of Coors Banquet beer they could hold and used the golden lager made of Rocky Mountain water to put the fire down. Together, they saved the big rig. 

“Thankfully they were tallboys,” Moreau recalled.

The moral of the story: Sometimes you will recognize a hero because he’s the one with the beer in his hand.