Alcohol’s long been the go-to for folks who want to create more flames, not fewer, from flaming cocktails to flambé. But Vacaville resident Chad Little did not appear to have baked Alaska on his mind when he reached for a 30-pack of Bud Light beer as the LNU Lightning Complex fires menaced his home, using the brews to fight the blaze and save his property.
The Bay Area News Group reports that Little’s family was evacuated from their home last week as the fire — the second-largest in California history, destroying 930 structures and consuming 352,900 acres across Napa, Lake and Sonoma counties — approached. But Little remained behind to protect his homestead, saying, “I had a lot of friends and family trying to fight with me to get me to leave, but I wasn’t gonna do it.”
What Little didn’t realize was that, as the flames neared his house, the Solano Irrigation District shut off the water, leaving him powerless against the blaze.
“I didn’t have any water,” Little tells KCRA reporter Emily Maher. “I had one barrel with a little bit of water in it. I tried using that, but it didn’t work ... I had 30 packs of Bud Light in here, and I just grabbed those.”
What Little did next might be known as “shotgunning” or “keying,” depending on where you grew up, but the concept is simple: Shake up a can of beer (carbonated non-alcohol works too), then punch a hole in the side. What results is a forceful but focused spray of liquid that can be directed at one’s fraternity brother, out the back of a pickup truck, or toward an advancing wildfire.
The latter was Little’s target, as he agitated the cans of Bud and then punctured them with a nail that extended from an outbuilding wall. “When I first grabbed the cans of beer and ran down there, I was shaking them up and opening them up but it was just dispersing too quick,” Little tells BANG. “When I saw that nail, I would just puncture a hole and shake as I was going, and I could aim it and concentrate on the bad parts (of the fire).”
Though the flames destroyed Little’s carport, his quick work with the beer reportedly saved his home, which other than a strong smoke smell has escaped unscathed. Since then, he’s been “just been running around and (putting) out little smoldering fires,” elsewhere in his neighborhood, he says, but did not say if he was sticking with Bud to fight the blaze — or if he’d swapped his brews for water in the intervening days.