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Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor on the Erskine Fire raging through his district and the tragic loss of Byron and Gladys McKaig.

Full remarks are below or watch online here.

“Mr. Speaker, for nearly two weeks now a wildfire has raged throughout my district. High heat, dry winds, and a long drought conspired together, enabling a fire that has burned tens of thousands of acres, hundreds of homes, and taken the lives of two people.

“Now, I did not know Byron and Gladys McKaig personally. But I’ve heard about them and learned a small part or their story. They were good and loving people. They met in a church. He was an Episcopal priest, and she played the organ. Byron would preach, Gladys would play, and they helped their friends and each other grow closer to God. 

“They died, it seems, from smoke. A neighbor said he spotted them after the fire lying out front of their house near their fence. The trees were still burning. Byron looked as if he was shielding his wife from the coming flames. It was one last act of sacrifice for the woman he spent his life loving.” 

“Such people are a gift to everyone they meet.

“As our community struggles now to return to a sense of normalcy, faced with the immense task of rebuilding after so much loss, we have our firefighters, police officers, and first responders to thank that this disaster was not worse. For days, with little sleep and near exhaustion, they kept the flames at bay. They remind us how willing some face danger to protect others, and we are forever thankful to them.

“We continue to pray for those suffering from the loss of their businesses, their homes, their family, and their friends. Our community always has and always will stand strong in the face of disaster as we rebuild.”