4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Firemen work as volunteers at fire near Rosarito

El Coronel blaze had five heads

“It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters we’ll still go."
“It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters we’ll still go."

Last Thursday, December 10, the extreme Santa Ana winds that reached up to 60 miles per hour in Tijuana, Tecate, and Rosarito fanned wildfires which consumed four large ranches, according to Civil Protection of Baja California.

One of these ranches was close to the popular hiking route of El Cerro del Coronel in Primo Tápia in the Playas de Rosarito municipality. There Rodolfo Espinoza Mena, a 25-year-old firefighter with 12 years of experience, worked to put out the fire that threatened a suburban neighborhood.

“That day I had a call from my boss at 7:00 am to see who could go help with this fire. It was my day off, but I went as a volunteer,” Espinoza said. “It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters, we’ll still go. In our shifts we work 24 hours straight from 9 am to 9 pm and rest 48 hours. For this wildfire we worked for approximately 15 hours straight.”

Espinoza went prepared with nuts, seeds, oat bran energy bars, and lots of drinking water to avoid heat stroke. He noted that the lack of water in these rural areas is their main issue because they must have around 150 gallons to fight the fire.

“The ranchers were the ones who gave us water to refill our personal stash."

“The ranchers were the ones who gave us water to refill our personal stash. Due to the shortage we had to use shovels to put out the flames with some earth.” They had to work strategically because this was not a normal fire. “Usually, a wildfire has a structure – the back, the sides, and the head, which is the direction the fire is heading. But in this fire we had it all around us, and it had five heads, behind, in front, and in El Coronel itself,” Espinoza added.

According to Espinoza the best way to go is to let certain areas burn and control the expansion of the fire by clearing the land of any flammable material, work that lasts for hours. “Even leaves blown from trees on fire can start another. Also, animals like wild rats and rabbits. When they burn on fire before dying, they run, and these animals, unfortunately spread the fires.”

"When wild rats and rabbits burn on fire before dying, they run and spread the fires.”

The firefighters' strategy began to take effect around 6 pm, 19 hours since the fire started at 11 pm Wednesday – and almost 12 hours since Rodolfo started his shift on his day off. When he arrived back at the station at 7 pm, he and his colleagues had to report any damage to their wildfire combat equipment, and those that volunteered had to prepare everything to come to work for the next day.

Espinoza said that he gets the equivalent of $554 a month in pay but sometimes they have to take from their own pockets to buy safety equipment – helmets, specialized jackets, pants and boots. But the population they serve and their own families make it up to them with moral support, directly helping to contain wildfires, giving them food and water or donating tools to the stations.

While they worked, people offered them food or left it at the station: handmade burritos with eggs and jam, beans with cheese and meat, sandwiches, and electrolyte drinks. “There are people that write notes on the food like, ‘Take care,’ ‘Your family is waiting for you’ or ‘We need you,’” he stated. “These comments help us to deal with the mental or emotional problems we might have. As a second-generation firefighter my parents are used to the concern of me not coming back. But my mom always thanks God when I return, just as she did with my dad.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego aggressive rollerbladers return in strength

Big Wheels invade Balboa Park, Liberty Station
Next Article

San Diego aggressive rollerbladers return in strength

Big Wheels invade Balboa Park, Liberty Station
“It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters we’ll still go."
“It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters we’ll still go."

Last Thursday, December 10, the extreme Santa Ana winds that reached up to 60 miles per hour in Tijuana, Tecate, and Rosarito fanned wildfires which consumed four large ranches, according to Civil Protection of Baja California.

One of these ranches was close to the popular hiking route of El Cerro del Coronel in Primo Tápia in the Playas de Rosarito municipality. There Rodolfo Espinoza Mena, a 25-year-old firefighter with 12 years of experience, worked to put out the fire that threatened a suburban neighborhood.

“That day I had a call from my boss at 7:00 am to see who could go help with this fire. It was my day off, but I went as a volunteer,” Espinoza said. “It isn’t mandatory to go on these calls on our days off, and even though we’re paid firefighters, we’ll still go. In our shifts we work 24 hours straight from 9 am to 9 pm and rest 48 hours. For this wildfire we worked for approximately 15 hours straight.”

Espinoza went prepared with nuts, seeds, oat bran energy bars, and lots of drinking water to avoid heat stroke. He noted that the lack of water in these rural areas is their main issue because they must have around 150 gallons to fight the fire.

“The ranchers were the ones who gave us water to refill our personal stash."

“The ranchers were the ones who gave us water to refill our personal stash. Due to the shortage we had to use shovels to put out the flames with some earth.” They had to work strategically because this was not a normal fire. “Usually, a wildfire has a structure – the back, the sides, and the head, which is the direction the fire is heading. But in this fire we had it all around us, and it had five heads, behind, in front, and in El Coronel itself,” Espinoza added.

According to Espinoza the best way to go is to let certain areas burn and control the expansion of the fire by clearing the land of any flammable material, work that lasts for hours. “Even leaves blown from trees on fire can start another. Also, animals like wild rats and rabbits. When they burn on fire before dying, they run, and these animals, unfortunately spread the fires.”

"When wild rats and rabbits burn on fire before dying, they run and spread the fires.”

The firefighters' strategy began to take effect around 6 pm, 19 hours since the fire started at 11 pm Wednesday – and almost 12 hours since Rodolfo started his shift on his day off. When he arrived back at the station at 7 pm, he and his colleagues had to report any damage to their wildfire combat equipment, and those that volunteered had to prepare everything to come to work for the next day.

Espinoza said that he gets the equivalent of $554 a month in pay but sometimes they have to take from their own pockets to buy safety equipment – helmets, specialized jackets, pants and boots. But the population they serve and their own families make it up to them with moral support, directly helping to contain wildfires, giving them food and water or donating tools to the stations.

While they worked, people offered them food or left it at the station: handmade burritos with eggs and jam, beans with cheese and meat, sandwiches, and electrolyte drinks. “There are people that write notes on the food like, ‘Take care,’ ‘Your family is waiting for you’ or ‘We need you,’” he stated. “These comments help us to deal with the mental or emotional problems we might have. As a second-generation firefighter my parents are used to the concern of me not coming back. But my mom always thanks God when I return, just as she did with my dad.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Harvey Milk ship-christening with Mayor Todd Gloria

“Uncle Harvey was forced to resign because he was gay. It’s important to teach that we have evolved.”
Next Article

Reader editor Matt Lickona welcomes first child

Pregnancy, circumcision, Waugh vs. Updike on sex, Normal Heights house, snot boy, boys and guns
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close