San Francisco

San Francisco Firefighters Return Home After Helping Battle Massive Wildfire in Monterey County

San Francisco firefighters called in to help battle a massive wildfire burning near Big Sur in Monterey County returned home Tuesday.

Strike Team 2250, which consists of 22 firefighters from the San Francisco Fire Department, focused on neighborhoods, protecting people's homes, pets and belongings threatened by the Soberanes Fire. At times, there were walls of fire burning around them.

"As the fire is coming, the adrenaline kicks in and you just dig deep and do the job you got to do," firefighter Luke Michaelis said.

Officials on Tuesday said the blaze, which has charred 44,300 acres and is 25 percent contained, was sparked by an illegal, abandoned campfire.

The Soberanes Fire is also now the top firefighting priority in the state, officials said.

San Francisco firefighters who helped battle the wildfire said the terrain in the area was exceptionally difficult. Crews have to deal with fighting flames going uphill, areas full of brush, poison oak and falling trees.

The blaze has claimed one life when a bulldozer last week died fighting the fire.

"It's the hazard of the job and it's so sad, and it breaks everyone's heart," San Francisco Fire Department Assistant Chief Tom Siragusa said.

Residents who had their homes saved made sure the San Francisco strike team felt their appreciation.

"A lot of them were very appreciative," Michaelis said. "They gave us coffee and they were really great."

All California State Parks from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are closed until further notice. Full containment is not expected until Aug. 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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