On a day when crews made significant progress fighting the Carlton Complex fire, loved ones are remembering the fire's lone victim. 67-year-old Robert Koczewski collapsed and suffered an apparent stroke while trying to protect his home.
He was a father, a husband, a Vietnam veteran, and a retired state trooper.
He was just known for helping people, said his son, Robert Koczewski Junior.
Koczewski said his father and step-mother spent four days fighting the flames that were moving closer and closer to their home near Carlton.
He had hoses strategically placed and had a plan for himself, and when the flames did come close to the house, he kept dousing the greenbelt next to their house, he said.
Besides the house, Koczewski was also worried about a bridge crossing over a creek that serves as the only way in and out of the neighborhood.
He went down there to make sure that bridge was okay, and sure enough the flames were getting close to it, said Koczewski Junior.
He was hauling buckets of water to the bridge when he collapsed.
I think he just had a stroke and died, he just worked too hard, he said.
His family says the past few days have been incredibly tough, but they are comforted by the fact that the house is still standing. Koczewski's last stand made a difference.
I'm glad he went the way he did because he was doing something that meant something to him and saving something he worked so hard for, said Koczewski Junior.
He says his father was well known, well loved, and well respected throughout the community. The family will wait to plan a funeral until after the fires are under control, because they know people currently impacted by the fires will want to come.
Koczewski is the lone death associated with the Carlton Complex fire. The fire is 52 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.