Fighting California Blaze With 'Special Forces' of Firefighters

The wildfires have been so intense they have triggered multiple fire tornadoes sending flames 100 feet in the air.

The fire tornadoes, also known as fire whirls, are caused by hot, rising columns of air that pull the flames skyward. According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, fire tornadoes are a "rare but potentially catastrophic form of fire."

In Auburn, Calif., at least 60 structures have been destroyed by the fire, leaving hundreds of residents homeless.

"It feels like your heart's being pulled out," one woman said, looking over the devastation. "I mean, those are your lives."

Auburn resident Tim Meyers' house was spared by the flames, but his neighbors were not so lucky.

"I'm very thankful that ours is still standing, but I'm devastated for my neighbors," Meyers told "Good Morning America."

His wife, he said, is still "in chaos" and will not be moving back into the house that stands alone on his block. "You can't live in an area that looks like a war zone," he said.

Dead Firefighters' Tale of 'Selflessness' Emerges

The two firefighters killed in the state's biggest fire Sunday were trying to save an inmate fire-crew camp on Mount Gleason, the Associated Press reported.

Firefighters Capt. Ted Hall and Spc. Arnie Quinones were in a campsite with 55 inmates, several correctional officers and fire personnel when the flames tore into the camp. The firefighters moved everyone into the dining hall as the rest of the camp was flattened by the fire, the AP said.

Knowing the building was only temporary shelter, Hall and Quinones braved the flames and got in their firetruck to find a way out. At some point in their frantic search, the truck slipped off the blacktop and rolled 800 feet down the mountainside, landing upside down. Soon, the spreading fire overtook the downed vehicle.

"It hits home," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Sam Padilla told the AP. "This morning, my daughter hugged me a little tighter than usual."

Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said, "They were selfless. They put others' safety ahead of their own."

A memorial service is scheduled for later this week at the firefighters' staging camp.

The White House issued a statement Monday that said, "The president and first lady send their deepest condolences to the friends and families of these two lost heroes."

At least eighteen other firefighters have been injured, the governor's office reported Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8469689.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...