State Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, announced Friday she has introduced a resolution to name a section of state Route 15 near the North County community of Rainbow after local firefighting legend William R. Clayton.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 would rename a portion of state Route 15 as the “CAL FIRE Chief William R. Clayton Memorial Highway,” honoring the former Carlsbad resident who was twice awarded the Cal Fire Medal of Valor and was the most decorated chief in the agency’s history, according to a statement from Bates’ office.
Clayton died at his Carlsbad home of natural causes three years ago at the age of 77.
“Chief Clayton was a real-life action hero who saved hundreds of lives and entire towns from the ravages of fire,” said state Sen. 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.”
Clayton’s 50-year firefighting career began with the U.S. Forest Service at the Cleveland National Forest. He also served as a fire captain for the Orange County Fire Department, Assistant Chief at the Rainbow Conservation Camp for Cal Fire, Division Chief for Cal Fire and Sycuan Fire Department chief.
His first Medal of Valor came in 1998 for driving through a 50-foot wall of flames to rescue three people from their home near Lake Wohlford in Escondido.
The second Medal of Valor was awarded in 2006 for his actions during the Paradise and Cedar fires in 2003, during which he was credited with rescuing nearly 200 elderly patrons who were trapped in the Valley View Casino in Valley Center, as well as leading a firefight that saved downtown Julian.