Firefighters thank San Marcos community

The Cocos Fire raged fast and furious; it started last Wednesday and took over 2,000 acres and more than 3 dozen buildings, but it could have been a lot worse. And now that the Cocos Fire is 89% contained, firefighters said that they couldn’t have done it without the people who live in San Marcos. As the donations, desserts and thank-yous continue to pour in to San Marcos Fire Station 4, those who battled  – and continue to battle – the Cocos Fire turned things around Monday by thanking the community.

“Thank you for preparing your property with defensible space, thank you for heeding our evacuation warnings and thank you for having a meeting place for you and your families,” said Chief Nick Schuler of Cal Fire.

A major difference between these fires and the San Diego fires of 2003 and 2007: the cooperation among agencies, the use of military aircraft. Front line firefighters have mixed emotions:

“Just seeing the destruction and the impact that it was going to have on people’s lives is very sad, but at the same time, very rewarding for me,” stated San Marcos Fire Captain Kelly Crain. “I have a young crew; being able to see them perform under the conditions… it made me pretty proud.”

“I have found my heroes,” said San Marcos resident Rhiena Yosuibo. “It’s the firefighters.”

Kids brought cards, treats and dreams – growing up to be just like the firemen. 89-year-old Leona Thomas brought with her what was left in the rubble of what was once her Harmony Grove home: an angel, a bell.

“We’re just thankful,” said Thomas. “We’re glad that they’re going to be okay, that they didn’t get burned. Just pray for everybody. I would give up a house if no human being got hurt.”

No rest for the weary – just as the crowds dispersed at the fire station, another brush fire breaks out in San Marcos. Firefighters made quick work of this blaze. And Monday night, a packed community meeting in San Elijo Hills as a one stop shop for information about insurance adjusters, contractors, builders.

“We just want to make sure that they’re all legitimately doing the right things and that everybody is abiding by the rules,” said Captain Shawn Ferris, of the Department of Insurance Fraud Division. “The people that need to get their homes rebuilt are going to get it done, and get it done right.”

The command center for the Cocos Fire in Escondido will go back to being Kit Carson Park by Wednesday or Thursday. Let’s hope they don’t have to rebuild the station anytime soon.

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