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Exclusive police video shows heroic rescues, harrowing escapes and lessons from Wine Country fires

THE IMAGES jolt up and down as police officers run door-to-door, panting through thick, swirling smoke, imploring people to flee.
You don’t see the officers’ faces, but you hear their voices — sometimes stern, sometimes soothing — as they lift the frail and elderly from wheelchairs into patrol cars, heave up garage doors stuck when the power goes out, and calm stunned homeowners as their houses burn behind them.
Without realizing it, Santa Rosa police officers captured the horror and heroism of one of California’s deadliest wildfires from the tiny cameras clipped to their chests.
“Sir, I’m scared,” an elderly widow told Officer Dave Pedersen, one of the many voices recorded that night.
“I know,” Pedersen responds. “This is absolutely terrifying.”
Hours of “body cam” footage obtained exclusively by the Bay Area News Group tell a frantic, inspiring story of the bravery, compassion and teamwork the night of Oct. 8 and early Oct. 9. But they also reveal, in shake-you-to-the-core detail, some surprising reasons so many people were left behind — and the seemingly simple lessons Californians can take away as we prepare for another fire season.
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