Fires at Camp Pendleton intentionally set as part of Fire School training

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 22:08:54-04

Fire crews are intentionally setting fires at Camp Pendleton as part of the base's Fire School, which involves nearly 2,000 firefighters from several agencies.

An army of fire trucks barreled onto the base on Monday, and Camp Pendleton's deputy fire chief, Chris Hubmer, is helping to coordinate the intense two-week training.

"We're definitely a tight-knit family," he said of the fire department. "It's definitely a brother and sisterhood."

Crews plan to torch more than 2,000 acres by dropping fire with a drip torch. They give flames about a quarter-acre head start and then attack the fire.

They are largely reducing fuels around training hot zones, so Marines can train without worrying about triggering a fire in thick brush.

"If our Marines can't train and get up to speed, they can't go out and protect our nation," Hubmer added.

The rare hands-on training gives them lessons they cannot learn in a classroom.

Hubmer does not take training lightly after an incident at another base in 2004.

"One of our firefighters got lost on the second floor and fell through," he explained. "And by the time we did get to him, he was already perished."

The image is burned into his heart. Now, he is fighting to keep friends from falling as they protect those who protect us.

"To be able to provide that back to the Marines for what they do is a great feeling," Hubmer added.

Training of this magnitude with several agencies requires a lot of planning, before they know weather conditions.

Officials told 10News they are constantly analyzing and adapting to things like the oncoming heat wave.