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Local earns award for valor

Posted: December 9, 2010 9:52 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Kyle Joseph Efflandt

 

Canyon Country resident Kyle Joseph Efflandt, a firefighter who put his life on the line to save another during a 2008 Bay Area blaze, received the highest honor for state employees from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week.

The firefighter, along with 38 other state employees including 17 firemen, was awarded the Medal of Valor on Tuesday for “demonstrating extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to save the life of another,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Efflandt and three other firefighters were recognized for risking their lives to find a missing person during a raging wildfire in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in 2008.

That morning, Efflandt’s engine crew received a message that a man who had been evacuated ran back to his home.

The team drove up the blazing street to look for the missing man, stopping at his driveway. The flames were so hot they couldn’t go further.

“As we were driving up, the temperature in the engine cab rose 15 degrees, and we heard propane tanks blow up nearby,” Efflandt, 25,  said Wednesday. “The fire was working toward us really fast.”

The crew wasn’t able to find the missing person, as he escaped from the back of his house. The man wasn’t seriously hurt.

“Everybody returned to their loved ones that night,” Efflandt said. “That’s the most important thing.”

The governor called the recognized individuals “38 of California’s bravest citizens.

“The men and women we are honoring today have all demonstrated extraordinary courage and risked their safety, and even their lives, without hesitation to save another,” Schwarzenegger said in the statement.

Since the program began in 1959, 507 medals have been awarded.

“I’m proud to have it,” Efflandt said.

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