The demolisher: A former Sacramento paramedic offers his skills tearing down old structures and building new ones

Apr 23, 2017

Test and photos by John Keeble

Erik Wenz, a former firefighter paramedic from Sacramento whose first-responder rescues included 9/11, was showing the young Proyecto Saman volunteers how to use a power saw – his kind of building work but very different from the tough and dangerous volunteer demolition work after the earthquake.

Former fireman paramedic Erik Wenz at work in Canoa.

He was living with his wife, Krista,  also a former firefighter paramedic, when the earthquake struck. They both dashed into the village to help with the rescue work. Later, he played a big role in surveying and demolishing buildings.

“About 75% of the buildings, hundreds in total, had to be demolished,” he said. “We had no cranes, no explosives – we had to take them apart by hand.”

There was no money available, either, so Erik and Krista used a kit from their own Centerline building business as well as appealing for Gofundme donations.

Now that the demolition work is over, Wenz gives his skills and building equipment to help volunteer rebuilding projects.

“People here still need a lot of help,” said Wenz. Money from outside, to buy materials, is very important to keep the projects going.

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