Truck 9 as OES Engine 217
Chief Postel ordered Truck 9 out of service shortly before 2 p.m. to staff OES Engine 217, stored at the quarters of Engine 25.
"We covered in to [Station] 25," said Firefighter Kelly J. Holt, "because the engine had gone with a strike team."
"Right after we got there," he said, "we got a call from Radio and were told to respond with the OES rig to the training college in Contra Costa County. When we got there, we were formed into a strike team with other OES rigs from San Mateo, Pacifica, Kentfield and Ross Valley. We stayed on duty until Wednesday afternoon.
"After we left Contra Costa, we were sent to a staging area on Highway 24, about a mile-and-a-half below the Caldecott Tunnel. From there we were dispatched to Duncan and Broadway Terrace and remained there until Monday. Our strike team was commanded by a San Mateo battalion chief."
Temporary Chief's Aide Felix Duag was also part of the crew of OES Engine 217. He was working a trade for a member of Truck 9 on the day of the conflagration.
Upon arrival, "We were told to be the first unit to go down into the fire," said Chief's Aide Duag. "When we got to the area, the San Mateo battalion chief said, `Okay, I want San Francisco to go down the street first and find a hydrant.'
"I was the driver, and I said to him, `You got to be kidding!' I was looking down at where he wanted us to go, and all we could see was fire. He said, `Just go on down there.' I asked him if he knew for sure if there were any hydrants down there and he said, `I don't know'."
Firefighter Holt said, "He also told us, `Just find a hydrant, drop your hose and start going to work.' Then he left."
"It was rough," said Chief's Aide Duag, "everything to the north and west was on fire except the two houses in front of us.
"Lieutenant Bob Kim, Steve Christensen, Britt Smith, Kelly Holt and myself -- we backed the rig down the street, and at the first intersection we found a hydrant. Everything down Duncan on the right hand side was on fire except for those two houses on the corner."
"There were houses above us that were on fire," said Firefighter Holt, "burning embers were flying all over the place. It was very hot -- there was lots of smoke.
"[Firefighters] Steve Christensen and Britt Smith took about 300 feet of inch-and-a-half line and went up Broadway Terrace and fought fires there."
"They also dragged a hose up on to one of the roofs where there was smoke," said Chief's Aide Duag. "They were putting out this fire when an Oakland crew on the next cross-street started spraying them with another large line. So, they came back and got another 100 feet of hose, and went even farther up Broadway Terrace for more stops."
Chief's Aide Duag, who was the pump operator said, "The San Mateo or Ross Valley engine went up above us on Duncan and the Kentfield rig went up Broadway Terrace. They both dragged big lines down to me; I hooked them up, and gave them water."
"We took about 300 feet of two-and-one-half inch hand line from the rig and went up Duncan," said Firefighter Holt. "There was a lot of fire -- fire all over the place. Some fires were burning in back yards, and some houses were on fire. Bob Kim and I took the small line and went through the back yards, and put out a fire that was sweeping down the hill at us. That took about 20 minutes."
When that fire appeared to be under control, Lt. Kim and Firefighter Holt went to work on the houses burning in front of them.
"Bob Kim and I," said Firefighter Holt, "went up to the two houses that were burning on the corner of Broadway Terrace and Duncan. We put out the fire in the house on the left and then the one behind it.
"The fire along the hillside flared up again and Bob Kim had to go back there, so I had the two-and-one-half-inch line by myself for about 10 minutes. Two civilian water tank drivers came up and helped -- actually, I kinda' recruited them -- and they both assisted with the hose line. We had been fighting these fires for about three and a half hours."
"Later," said Chief's Aide Duag, "The Pacifica rig drove down just past where Lt. Kim and Kelly Holt were fighting the house fires. They dropped a line and put their Multiversal to work. At that time I had just about every line off that rig working.
"During the night, the hydrant pressure kept dropping almost to zero and then it would come back up to 100 pounds, which was the pressure we had when we arrived. I had to keep opening and closing gates to keep water going to the companies out there."
The fire began to roll over the companies at work on Broadway Terrace, and Chief's Aide Duag said, "I pulled out the hose reel and was putting out trees as the fire was rolling over our heads and jumping the street.
"Two houses up from where we were parked -- to the east -- there was a single house on fire, and that's where San Mateo or Ross Valley was working. The San Mateo battalion chief later came down to talk to me while I was at the pump panel," he said.
The chief officer asked that members of the company assist in saving this structure. Lieutenant Kim ordered all members of the company, with the exception of Chief's Aide Duag, to assist the other firefighters with the interior attack on the fire.
Firefighter Holt said, "I went back and relieved Felix Duag who was operating the pump, and he went over to work with the tank drivers. Felix was there for another hour.
"Then, a police officer came by and told us the fire had jumped Fish Ranch Rd. The San Mateo chief had come back, so we went up there, but there was nothing going on. We turned around and went back to Broadway and Duncan and were told to look for hot spots."
One of the surviving houses still had telephone service, and Firefighter Holt said, "One guy let us use his telephone -- it was still working, so Lt. Kim checked in with Radio. It was my wedding anniversary, so I called my wife and told her, `Honey, I won't be home for another couple of days'."
Chief's Aide Duag said Strike Team 2803-A ultimately established a fire line and was able to save about 20 houses in the area.
The crew of Truck 9 worked on hot spots in the area until 4 a.m., Monday and then got some sleep. The crew remained in the area until 2 p.m., and was then sent to the CDF staging area at Naval Air Station Alameda.
The crew of Truck 9 was relieved on Wednesday.
Strike Team 2 Operations
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