Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) announced today that she has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 to designate a portion of State Route 15 near the community of Rainbow in San Diego County as the “CAL FIRE Chief William R. Clayton Memorial Highway.”
Chief Clayton, who passed away in 2018 at his home in Carlsbad, helped rescue hundreds of people during his career and twice received California’s highest honor for valor. Senator Bates introduced SCR 12 on behalf of his family to help ensure his legacy endures for future generations.
“Chief Clayton was a real life action hero who saved hundreds of lives and entire towns from the ravages of fire,” said Senator Bates. “While no words can ever truly express the gratitude that we have for Chief Clayton, I hope the highway naming in his honor will further remind people of his commitment to public service.”
Chief Clayton started his 50-year firefighting career with the U.S. Forest Service at the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California and served as a Fire Captain for the Orange County Fire Department and the Assistant Chief at the Rainbow Conservation Camp for CAL FIRE. He also served as the Division Chief for CAL FIRE and became the most decorated chief in the history of the agency. He retired in 1998 but rejoined CAL FIRE until he retired again in 2006, when he joined the Sycuan Fire Department as its Chief.
He was awarded his first CAL FIRE Medal of Valor in 1998 for his heroic actions during a 1997 fire in Escondido, when he drove through a 50-foot wall of flames to rescue three people from their home near Lake Wohlford.
In 2006, he received his second Medal of Valor for his efforts in both the Paradise and Cedar fires in San Diego County in 2003. He helped rescue nearly 200 elderly patrons who were trapped in the Valley View Casino in Valley Center and prevented the devastation of downtown Julian.
SCR 12 is pending a referral to a Senate policy committee. To learn more about Chief Clayton’s extraordinary life, click here.