Although Malibu residents were evacuated due to the Woolsey Fire, 79-year-old Jerry Perronne — who's lived there since the 1990s — chose to stay to protect his home. His diligence also paid off for his neighbors, whose home he saved from destruction after embers ignited their backyard.
Reuniting with her neighbor Tuesday night, a grateful Jennifer Schwab Wangers embraced and thanked Perronne, telling him her home would not be standing if it weren't for his actions.
"Right now, I'd be with the rest of those folks that are facing the reality that their houses are gone," she said.
Perronne, who has been through three other wildfires, was among a small handful of residents who defied the mandatory evacuation order and chose to stay behind to defend their homes instead.
"My house wouldn't have been here every time, because the firemen are not here," he explained of his decision. "They can't cover everything."
But when embers sparked a fire on the property next door in the dead of night, Perronne and his son didn't hesitate to leave their house to try and save their neighbors' residence. The pair jumped a fence and started battling the flame themselves.
"They have a pool and I have a pump with 250 feet of hose, so we had set it up and when the fire hit, we started hosing things down," he told KTLA.
After, the two men continued to patrol the perimeter for some three hours, dousing the landscape with water and beating back flames that engulfed trees and brush.
"That not only take wherewithal, it takes a lot of heart," Schwab Wangers said. "He's my hero."
Her house is still under construction, though about 90 percent complete; the couple planned to move in ahead of Christmas.
"All night I tossed and turned before I got his phone call, when he said 'your house is still standing," she recalled.
The loss would've been extra tough for the couple; their business on the Virgin Islands was wiped out last year amid the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma when the catastrophic storm swept through that region.
"The odds are infinitesimal. To have two natural disasters in such a short period of time," Schwab Wangers said.
Still, despite the effusive praise from his neighbor, the longtime Malibu resident remains modest about his own firefighting efforts.
"This is the fourth fire I've been through," he said. "So it's sort of like, 'Eh."
And despite the positive outcome for their homes, Perronne advises others not to do what he did.
"I had all the right equipment and have been through this. That's the key," he said. "A normal person should not stay."