POWAY, Calif. – "It's been a long day." That was the understatement of the day from Stockton Fire Capt. Dwight Lindsey.
I linked up with Lindsey and his strike team of five engines from Stockton, Calif., in the town of Poway on Monday night. They had left Stockton after noon on Sunday, and arrived in San Diego County at 2 a.m. They went straight to work and were staring at an overnighter.
The team was assigned structure protection along Trailwind Road, a street of neat houses that unfortunately backed up to a brush-filled canyon. Fire was being pushed down the canyon by the strong Santa Ana winds that have fueled all of these fires in Southern California.
Rookie battles blaze
One of the hoses being dragged through backyards was manned by Tom Solorzano, a 43-year-old rookie, just four months into the job. He seemed a little scared, nervous, excited, tired, and I'm sure, he was hoping not to let his engine boss down. "It's not even tiring," he said. "This is what I want to do; I want to save this house. I'll sleep tomorrow."
Just like Lindsey predicted, the fire came roaring right up the canyon, bumping up against the fences in backyards all down Trailwind Road. Solorzano needed a little coaching, but he knocked the fire down before it scorched the house.
Then they rolled up the hose and moved onto the next block.
"House to house to house," said Lindsey. "The only thing that's keeping these guys going is adrenaline."