CHUALAR, Calif. - Three Monterey County strike teams returned home Sunday after spending three days battling fires at the Camp Pendleton military base outside San Diego.
One strike team Central Coast News caught up with had 19 representatives from Seaside, City of Monterey, Monterey Regional and Cal Fire. The fire was first reported at 600 acres, said strike team leader Humberto Arista, and when they left San Diego Sunday, it had grown to 15,000 acres.
"On our arrival, we were pushed out to the field and we were out in the field for 24 hours straight," Arista said.
"We were on a blacktop area protecting a whole parking lot full of U.S. Marine vehicles, and when the flames came up the hill, they were 25 feet tall," said veteran firefighter Ray Lafontaine.
It took an army to get the fire to 75 percent contained by the time the crew returned o the Central Coast. Over the last three days, the strike team had accumulated about 10 hours of sleep, Arista said. The rest of time they battled fires in extreme conditions and they say they want more.
"They still got crews down there but I would have stayed," Lafontaine said.