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93-year-old woman evacuated from California wildfire by garbageman

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A 93-year-old woman who needed help evacuating from her home near the California wildfire was rescued by her garbageman.

On Thursday, after her caretaker had left for the day, Margaret Newsum walked outside of her Magalia home in Butte County when Dane Ray Cummings, a driver for the waste management department, pulled up, according to local news station KCRA.

“I went out and was standing on the front porch when this great, big, green monster drove up, and my dear friend was emptying the garbage, and I have had him as my worker — I call him my private worker because he’s so great — and he said, ‘You’re not staying here. You’ve got to get out of here. Why are you still here?'” Newsum said.

Newsum has no family in the area, so Cummings took matters into his own hands — literally. Cummings and his colleagues “lifted her, and we scooted her on the seat and put the seat belt on her and made sure she was up there far enough so she wouldn’t fall out either side, and that was it. We were on the road,” he recalled. The crew was extra careful considering Newsum recently broke her back.

While Newsum was the only resident on Cummings’s regular route to hitch a ride, he did check on other individuals in the area as well. “I’ve been on that route eight years, and I just picked the people that I knew were older, and I tried to stop and help them and let them know that they were coming and make sure they were getting out,” Cummings said of prioritizing his stops after his supervisor advised him to cut his day short because of the encroaching fire. “She was my last stop. I probably went to 45 or 50 people to see if I could help them.”

All in all, KCRA reports that the drive to safety took about 5 hours, giving Newsum and Cummings plenty of time to get to know one another beyond friendly acquaintances. “I wish I’d known her when she was younger,” Cummings said. “I would’ve married her, you know what I mean? It was the best conversation I’ve had in a truck ever.”

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