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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
San Diego fireman describes 'hell'
San Diego City firefighter Tim Robles and his colleagues have been working non-stop 36-hour shifts tackling this week's wildfires. Here is the 35-year-old's description of the last extraordinary few days in his own words.

Pic of fire in San Diego
Fireman Tim Robles took this photo of San Diego City homes in flames
It's been real difficult, emotionally as well as physically exhausting.

There's a lot of smoke, it's really hard to breathe and the smoke gets everywhere. It's hell.

I was working during the last major wildfires of 2003 and I never thought I'd see them again, not on that scale.

Everyone said that was a once-in-a-lifetime disaster, but here we are four years later and they're back.

This is a wealthy area, it's all been evacuated, lots of homes have been destroyed. We've just been trying to save as many houses as possible.

We've had a few firefighters who've found out their homes have been ruined while they've been out working elsewhere
We're used to saving houses that are on fire but we have to prioritise quite a lot and leave houses that are already alight.

We don't have the personnel. San Diego City has about 1,200 firefighters and we would need five times that number to take on a fire of this magnitude.

One guy had just rebuilt his home after it was destroyed in the last fires of 2003 and was about to move back in but it's now gone up in flames.

We've had a few firefighters who've found out their homes have been ruined while they've been out working elsewhere putting out fires on other houses. That's pretty hard.

The fires are moving out to East County [area of San Diego] right now, towards my own house. I got my wife and two kids there, they're staying put for now




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