Dry, hot conditions taking toll on firefighters

SAN DIEGO - Day four of battling fierce flames fueled by Santa Ana winds has firefighters worn out.

"We're all a little tired but that's what we're here for," said Capt. Chad Willenberg, who is with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

More than 1,000 firefighters from all across the state have teamed up to fight the fire from the air and the ground.

Some San Diego city fire crews have put in 72 hours straight, attacking the huge flames under the hot sun.

"It will take a toll on you 'cause you're out there in the heat, you're working with that extra gear on … you're sweating quite a bit," said Capt. Chris Coates, who is with the Costa Mesa Fire Department.

A photo sent in by a 10News viewer shows just how exhausted one crew was. In the photo, the firefighters are seen resting on the grass, trying to regain their strength.

"The people of Santaluz that let us stay in their backyards that night and the next morning they were very grateful and they served a lot of the firefighters donuts," said SDFRD Capt. Steve Michaels.

Firefighters say there were some close calls battling the Cocos Fire in San Marcos. At one point, the fire was so out of control, they had to immediately back down.

"In the Harmony Grove area, we were down in the bottom there and it took off on us and we had to evacuate out of there," said Willenberg. "Unfortunately we lost quite a few homes back there."

After an intense shift, crews re-energized at the command center. While some rested in tents, others enjoyed a hot meal and a cold drink at the dining area.

Despite the sometimes scary moments, firefighters say they are willing to risk their lives doing what they love.

"We love it, this is what we get paid to do and we're happy to do it for you," said Willenberg.

Several businesses are offering a number of complimentary services for firefighters. Click here for the full list.

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