CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Firefighters in San Diego have a handle of fires that are still burning. Nine fires have burned more than 40,000 acres in the county. The cost of damages from the fires is estimated to be more than $25 million. Thousands of firefighters worked tirelessly to protect life and property including a handful from the valley. Firefighters from Palm Springs and Cathedral City were dispatched to help in the containment efforts. "It was like driving through a war zone, a few things I've never experienced," said Battalion Chief Eric Hauser from the Cathedral City fire department.
Hauser and one other member of his department were sent to Carlsbad Wednesday during the Poinsettia fire. Their first assignment was mopping up some of the areas where the fire ripped through. "There just wasn't anything left behind, things that were in that fire's path were devastated," said Hauser.
Not long after putting out some hot spots, Hauser's team got called out to a fire at a nearly 25,000 square foot office building. "Mentally my strike team had to switch gears from wild land firefighting to structural firefighting, so the guys did an outstanding job," said Hauser.
While the damage was substantial, firefighters managed to protect the front office where many business records were stored. The Poinsettia fire destroyed more than a dozen buildings, places where Hauser says residents could've done more to protect their homes. "The defensible space was not there on several of the homes that I saw," said Hauser.
The fire burned 600 acres in Carlsbad before it was fully contained. A number that could've been much bigger if not for the men and women like Hauser working around the clock. "Sometimes they'll work 30 to 36 hours without any rest so they're extremely exhausted at the end of their work cycles," said Hauser.
He says seeing the damage in San Diego shows what a dangerous fire season we could be in for, and serves as a reminder for people in our valley to be proactive about their safety. "We've got a lot of communities that can be affected by this so again, those communities be prepared," said Hauser.