The May 2014 San Diego Wildfires caused too many families to lose everything as their homes fell victim to a cluster of vicious wildfires that burned out of control for nearly a week. Despite the significant improvements in preparations for fire season by the County of San Diego, City of San Diego, CalFire and numerous other agencies, the combination of record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought conditions proved to be as dangerous as ever.
We were called into action quickly to help support mandatory evacuations and counter-looting patrols. These fires were like so many large-scale disasters: the worst circumstances bring out the best in humanity. All the agencies came out to support the mission. To my knowledge, there was almost none of the usual bickering and jockeying that normally accompanies inter-agency rivalries.
In addition to my usual kit, I brought a pair of Qore Performance Half Sleeve FR’s (Fire Resistant) along for this assignment. It was a life-saver given the proximity of the fire to our positions, ambient temperatures, fire suits and duty gear (I chose to wear my body armor).
Here is the rest of the story in pictures.
I took two screen shots of the weather during the san diego fires. I don’t remember which one was day one vs day two, but the searing temperatures are obvious nonetheless.
This was the temperature near our main base where we prepped gear to respond to the 2014 san diego wildfires. 106f is warm by itself, then add body armor, a nomex fire suit ppe, running patrol car engines and the heat of the actual fires…brutal.
The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane/Aircrane is not something you see everyday or even at every wildfire. This thing was one impressive fire fighting beast! sorry for the low-res shot, my iPhone was on max zoom and I couldn’t exactly carry an slr with me.
A cool shot of the impressive CH-53s from the Marine Corps coming in over the rooftops of local businesses. If it were not for the wildfires, this would have been another beautiful San Diego sunset.
USMC CH-53s come in to refill their water buckets after another good drop. They filled their buckets right next to our command post, but we were never sure what they were using for a water source. Our best guess was the pool at mission hills high? If you know where, please let us know in the comments!
Formation flying not only looks cool, but is common in military aviation. As civilian law enforcement, this is not something we are used to seeing. As one of my NSW friends used to tell me: “Justin, remember your ABC's: always be cool.”
A view of the San Marcos fires from our motor pool staging area. The fires were closer than I realized at the time which was actually great for our response time. Big hat tip to all San Diego County LEOs for this mission.
This is the trunk of my POV while gearing up to respond to the wildfires: Nomex fire suit, Point Blank body armor, Motorola XTS-5000 radio with speaker mic, 5.11 light for life charger and 5.11 patrol ready bag.
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