On July 26, 2018, we lost our brother, Fire Prevention Officer Jeremiah Nathaniel Stoke, also known as Jeremy. Jeremy was a true American hero and an example of selfless devotion to duty, honor, and service to our community.
Jeremy attended the fire academy at Shasta College and graduated with an associate of arts degree in fire science. He worked as a seasonal firefighter for CAL FIRE from 2001 to 2004 and then joined the Redding Fire Department as a firefighter on May 25, 2004. He promoted to fire engineer on October 5, 2008, and to fire inspector on November 19, 2017. In his role as fire inspector, Jeremy was assigned to a staff position at headquarters. He was fully trained as a firefighter in the suppression of fire, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials response. In addition, the fire inspector assignment included fire investigation, life hazard inspections, and arrest powers as a part of his duties.
Jeremy joined the Shasta Cascade Regional Hazardous Materials Team in February of 2007. Jeremy was a registered instructor with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and served on various department training cadres, including ventilation and auto extrication, and was responsible for presenting training and instruction to the department in these fields. Additionally, Jeremy was an instructor at the Shasta College Fire Academy, serving as a lead or primary instructor for SCBA, search and rescue, auto extrication, and PPE/tools and equipment.
On Monday, July 23, 2018, the Carr Fire started on Whiskeytown National Recreation Area land west of Redding. The fire quickly spread to state responsibility lands protected by CAL FIRE. The Redding Fire Department sent equipment and personnel to assist. Prior to the arrival of the fire into Redding proper, all available off-duty Redding firefighters were requested to report to duty. On July 26, 2018, Fire Engineer Stoke responded to the request and reported for work from vacation earlier that week. Due to his sense of duty, he had returned home to assist his department and protect our community.
On the evening of July 26, conditions aligned to create extremely rapid fire growth. Redding firefighters and officers, including Fire Inspector Stoke, battled the fire and conducted evacuations of homeowners and others from the area. As Fire Engineer Stoke heroically performed his duties, he was trapped by a rapidly progressing fire front and overrun by a rarely documented fire vortex, later determined to have wind speeds in excess of 165 miles per hour, equivalent to an F-3 tornado. He went missing around 8:00 p.m. and was later found by his fellow emergency responders, having died heroically in his duties.