Growing up fast: A 14-year-old drove himself and his brother to safety evacuating the Creek Fire

Local News

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) — 14-year-old, Ruben Navarette shares his experience as he drove himself and his brother to safety evacuating the fast-growing Creek fire on Monday.

“I decided to just go for it, and I trusted my gut,” said Ruben.

14-year-old, Ruben Navarette

Ruben said they live near Tollhouse and saw how fast the fire was progressing and knew it was time to leave. 

“Really nervous and scared and I was scared for me because it was my first time driving out of the residence,” said Ruben.

Ruben said his brother has a disability preventing him to drive so he had to step up and get behind the wheel with little knowledge on how to operate a car. 

Ruben’s Uncle, Joshua Smith said he had gone over the basics of driving just days before their evacuation and was happy he did so. 

“I showed him how to drive here and there but I was nervous for him because I didn’t know what he was going to do,” said Joshua.

Joshua said the fire was raging out of control so leaving when they did was the best decision. 

Ruben’s Aunt, Jaime Smith said the Creek fire grew so fast they had to pack up and leave in a rush. 

“When our neighbor told us to look outside and we saw the glare we were so scared and we just got into the car and left,” said Jaime.

Jaime said they didn’t have enough seats to fit everyone in their car along with their belongings that they took. 

Ruben had to follow them in a separate vehicle out of the Creek Fire and into safety.

“You know the road we went down it was scary,” said Joshua. “It would be scary for a normal adult because of the hills and turns but he did good.”

Ruben drove himself and his brother to a safe destination spot with the help of his brother assuring him along the way. 

“Take deep breathes be safe and keep eyes on the road and go at your own pace,” said Ruben. “I said ok and I listened to him and I made it through.”

His entire family is now safe and staying at a hotel until the Creek fire is under control. 

 The Red Cross is assisting those impacted by the California Wildfires.  You can help. Click this link to donate online:  https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/ksee24-pub.html/

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