A video that puts in perspective the swiftness and vastness of the devastation that first responders encountered in the early hours of the wine country wildfires one week ago is this one, from Engine 6 of the Berkeley Fire Department. Firemen from this crew, as they explain in overlaid titles on the 11-minute video above, had no idea what they were being called to help with in Santa Rosa, other than it was being called the Tubbs Fire.
As Berkeleyside reports, Engine 6 was dispatched around 5 a.m. on Monday, October 9, and they joined a convoy of other engines headed north on 101 from San Francisco to help with a blaze, the scale of which none of them yet knew. As the video shows, they arrived in Santa Rosa to scenes out of a war zone that they were just beginning to comprehend, one street at a time, driving into the Coffey Park neighborhood. Small scattered fires burned across wide expanses that were dotted with lone chimneys, and the staging area they had been told to go to when they left an hour earlier, a K-Mart parking lot, was now next to a burning 100,000-square-foot store that could not be saved.
The crew moves on, seeking someplace they could still be of help, and a safe place to stage from. They ended up in a neighborhood that was partly on fire where flames were jumping from house to house, and managed to contain it and save approximately 30 homes from burning, they think. They moved on and continued fighting back flames for the next day and a half without sleep, returning to Berkeley Tuesday night.
"We don’t typically video our responses," firefighter Mike Shuken tells Berkeleyside, "but this was so big and unprecedented that we did this time of course when we felt it wouldn’t slow us or interfere with our operations."