BELLA VISTA, Calif. — A family member of the 81-year-old dozer operator who tragically passed away in the horrific Carr Fire on July 26 spoke about the passing of their beloved father, Don Ray Smith.
Smith was a father of five girls, a grandfather of 13 grandkids, and 28 great-grandchildren.
Smith's youngest daughter, Angela Caudel, said her father was a family man who loved working.
"He was a good man. He really cared about family. Me and my sisters, he would do anything for us, anything. [He was] always there for you whenever you called, day or night. The great-grandkids just loved him," said Angela.
Angela created a family scrapbook with pictures and memories shared with their father and the family.
"He was a good family man. [He] loved his kids, loved his grandkids, his great grandkids, loved to work and died trying to save their community," said Angela.
Angela described that night when she and her sister received a call about their father.
"She called me and said daddy had passed away in the fire. That was him on the dozer and that the corner wanted me to call him, so I called him and he wanted to know if there were any specifics that I knew, tattoos or anything. I said he has a ring he never takes off," said Angela.
She said her father had the ring since the 1970's. The ring survived in the fire and was renewed and cleaned.
"Having it and knowing it was saved in the fire and they were able to save it, really makes me feel good," said Caudel.
She said knows her father absolutely loved their family and that their father will always be with them.
"I told my sister that i know we were the last thought going through his mind because he knew how we worried, him working the fire anyway and I just know that that's how much he loved family, right up into the end," said Caudel.
Caudel said she thanks everyone for the overwhelming love and support and says her and her sister are now hoping that subcontractors get the same recognition as everyone else who fights fires.