Shoreline firefighters 'learned a lot' fighting California wildfires

A group of exhausted firefighters returned home to Shoreline on Tuesday morning after nine days of fighting wildfires in California. They told KIRO 7 they learned a lot that will help them better fight wildfires in Washington.

The four Shoreline firefighters were part of Washington Strike Team 5. They spent most of their time on the Woolsey Fire outside of Los Angeles. On their way back over the weekend, they were called in to help fight the Camp Fire which destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California.

“Destruction, just utter destruction,” Shoreline firefighter Mike Merrick told KIRO 7. “Even seeing it on TV it was hard until you go down there and see it firsthand how bad it really is.”

The strike team had five Type-1 engines. The specialty of those trucks is to protect structures and homes.  Merrick told KIRO 7 how they protected one neighborhood surrounded by fire.

“They had been with the threat of fire for 3 days,” he said. “And you can imagine how nice that must feel, the relief when five big fire trucks roll into your neighborhood and stop and park for 24 hours. Just the relief that they had. They were so gracious. They were so glad we were there and super thankful.”

The Shoreline firefighters say they made connections along the way that will be important down the road.

“We all exchanged numbers and the community gets bigger and bigger,” Merrick said. “We learned a lot from those guys and as our weather changes and as we get drier as seems to be the case, we're just getting better and better and better.”

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