San Diego

Santee Fire Crew Returns from Battling Ferguson Fire

San Diego County firefighters have been helping in fighting the Ferguson Fire, which has been burning for about a month.

The fire was 100 percent contained Sunday.

The Santee Fire Department sent two crews to Shasta County to battle the conflagration. The second crew returned safely home a few days ago

“For me to be able to come back home and see my family and stuff is huge for me and I feel very blessed,” fire engineer Aaron Huisman said. “Being gone for two weeks, it’s refreshing to get home.”

The four-person crew returned Tuesday after 14 days of firefighting. For Huisman, this is his second 14-day deployment this summer

“Everybody’s got their own kind of things that they’re into that they decompress with,” he said, having been deployed many times in his 15-year career.

Fire Captain Richard Medlin, however, has only been sent on two 14-day deployments, this being his second

“For me, it was two and one of them was when I was four months on the job when the cedar fire came through,” he said.

Firefighter paramedic Chris Smith was just 10 months in when he was sent.

“I was nervous,” he said.

A text came out one Saturday asking for firefighters who would be willing to head north to fight the fires.

“I asked my wife and she said, ‘You’re newer on the job and it’d be a great experience for you,’” he said.

Two hours later he found out he'd be leaving in three days

“I put my name in kind of hoping I would go and then I was actually really excited and my wife didn't think I would get it and once I was like, ‘Hey I’m going,’ she was like, ‘Oh wow,’” Smith said. 

With more than a decade of experience, Medlin he said he's noticed things getting worse.

“The frequency and the size this year alone is detrimental,” he said.

So while they had a few days off, they’ll be back to work knowing they could be sent away again at any time.

“I actually had a day and a half off and came back to work on Thursday,” Smith said.

“I’m always read,” Huisman said. “If I’m here I’m ready.”

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