Local rescuers reflect on wildfire danger

CLAYMONT, Del. - September 1, 2009 It is hot and dangerous work battling those unpredictable wildfires. Yet John Richardville and Nikki Testa say it is a job they love.

Richardville is with the Claymont Fire Company. Testa is a Delaware park ranger and a volunteer with the Mill Creek Fire Company.

From August 7th to August 23rd, Richardville and Testa joined a group of 100 firefighters from five states fighting a wildfire in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.

They battled to extinguish hot spots and cut fire lines in what is called the La Brea fire.

"This assignment was my 12th assignment for the last nine years I've been involved. It actually has grown into an addiction. I love the outdoors and I love fighting fires, so this way I can combine the two," said Testa.

"That fire comes like a giant wave. Like you're standing in the ocean and a wave comes? It's like fire, all around you," said Richardville.

Richardville and Testa's equipment includes a weather meter, which measured temperatures of 115 degrees and humidity of just 12 percent.

Both say their hearts go out to the firefighters who died when their vehicle went off the road. But, they understand how it can happen.

"Our 20 person crew has a bus and I'd look out the window thinking 'Wow, we're really close,'" Testa said. "So I can seen how something like that would happen," said Testa.

Richardville and Testa have been watching the California inferno closely, and say they are ready to go if they are called up again.

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