Out of all the gore and the guts and the horrible things that I saw that day, for some reason there was one thing, they had carried a child out and it was dead. We had made up, well, we had a makeshift morgue set down and there were concrete benches and they were sitting these children on the benches and covering them up with the sheets. And I watched them carry this little girl out and they had covered her with a sheet, and they laid her on this bench and her little foot, which didn't have a drop of blood on it at all, it wasn't maimed or injured. Her little foot slid out from under the shade. And she had on this little pink lacy sock, and just like socks that I bought for my little girl. And for some reason it bothered me more. >> A lady that was at the YMCA daycare there had a small child about, I would say, two years old, who had some lacerations and cuts on the head. I remember the lady had a small laceration on her forehead. And she kept saying, I can't find his brother, I can't find his brother. They were put in the back of the ambulance, and strapped in the jump seat. So we started working on these two. She kept saying, I can't find his brother. He's got a twin brother. I can't find him. And at that point I said, let's go. I've got four people. That's all we had. Had an extra medic in the back with me. I said, four people, that's what we can take care of. We closed the doors. The medic that was going to drive us in, go to the front. I heard him slam the door, heard him yell ready, I said yes, let's go. Non emergency right now and clear the scene. About that time the side door opened up and and one of the firefighters said, here, take this one and shoved the twin brother in the door. Teacher and brother they just screamed. She reached over and grabbed him and they were identical twins dressed alike, and they almost had the same injuries. [MUSIC] >> And after everyone I think that was down there took a breather, and had time to realize what had happened. The devastation, it was kind of disbelief. Everybody was kind of in a maze. >> When we started having to take veteran crews out of the scene and evacuate them and extricate them from the scene for CISD. I knew the situation was very grim, and very bad. >> I was summonsed back to headquarters to put together the CISD program for the units that would be coming back from the explosion, putting together a debriefing form, on de-fusion. >> Fortunately Amore started debriefing, and critical stress debriefing within two days. We've had several teams coming in, over the next two months, coming in for debriefings, for classes in how to handle distress. >> In the daily routine of being back out on the streets driving around in the ambulance and running calls, everywhere you went there was thank yous and people patting me on the back and wanting to come up and ask you about the situation and how you're doing. >> After it all happened I have to admit, for a few weeks after that I was proud to wear my uniform. >> Much of the business, police, fire, or EMS is self selective. You either fit or you don't. And I think a lot people proved that morning that they really do fit. They really are where they belong. >> Considering the amount of people that were injured and killed, considering the amount of devastation and damage that was done, I think we did an excellent job. I think everyone did. They banded together. And I'm proud to work with these people every day, and I would never have a problem with putting my life in one of their hands. [MUSIC] We were all faced with on that October day was really a fire that we couldn't control. And which for many, many hours we were not able to extinguish. It was relentless. It just kept going, and going, and going. [MUSIC] >> I relieved the instant commander at about an hour into the fire and I became instant commander. I've never seen anything like it in my life, never expected to see anything like it in my life. >> [NOISE] >> My God. I've never seen anything like this. >> [NOISE] >> It got to a point to where trees were blowing up like bombs, for me the experience reminded me basically of Vietnam. The fire was basically living off itself. I heard people say fire could do that, but I have now the experience of saying I have seen fire do that, to be somewhat surrounded by fire, you know, and actually have fire raining, not just embers There was actually fire raining on you. [NOISE] >> Firefighter Davis, he said looks like we're going to die up here. And he kind of shook me like this and he said we're going to die, we're not going to get out of this. He said we gotta try to get out. I said where we go? You know, and I saw the chief walk off, looked like he walked off in the flames and smoke, he said where's the chief? I said I just saw the chief. You know I said "phew", and. >> I remember telling him now don't get anybody hurt down there, Jim. Never thinking he would be the one. Usually, a chief can get away from a fire, because he's there with his car, and he's not tied down by a hose line or anything. And, that would have been the last person in the world I thought would have been a victim. [MUSIC] >> He died several hundred yards from his vehicle. And we sifted through the ashes. We found his breast badge, like that. We found his collar buttons. We found the badge off his cap. They were tarnished, they were distorted, they were discolored, they were twisted. And as we lay them on the hood of his burnt out, rusted car, when I looked up to my aid, my assistant who'd been my strength all night, he was gone. He was walking down a burnt out road. I said then, and I'll say it now >> It was like we'd already died and we were standing in hell. >> Never get it out of your mind afterwards. At times, was a total sense of frustration and just despair almost that all your life, all your working life you've been trained to, excuse me a minute. [MUSIC]. >> It's like a football team that gets really trounced. And then you come out of the game and you don't feel too good then the people boo you when you leave the field. That's what a lot of people feel like. [MUSIC] Day after the fire I went home the next and then I started acting like I was all right and I can handle this. And I started working overtime. And then the press started really coming around and they start having me, I'd work overtime and they'd just pay me overtime just to talk to the press. And I'd just be talking to the press, and I was on all the stations. And I was on the radio and everything. And people's calling me. I saw you, Nick, on t.v, I saw you, and everything. Oh aren't you taping this stuff and I said naw I'm not taping nothing. But I was just going on like everything was all right. And then one night I was at the show and I just kind of cracked. Somebody stepped on my toe you know, people when they're walking in the aisle they don't mean to step on your toe but I just, man can't you see my toe, you know? And that's not me you know? But I was losing it. And I was with my girlfriend and everything. And she could see, I was short and curt with her. And I just lost it, just that quick. Because I was trying to act like was all right, but it wasn't. >> People are. They've gotta leave the park here. We need your car parked, all right? [NOISE] >> When you pull up to a building it's totally wrong. Everybody's running out. I'm running in. This is not normal behavior You run in, you don't know what's in that house, you don't know if they got dynamite in there or gas main going, or explosives or what, you just go in there. Well you know it's, but you can't say well you can't run up there and say well maybe I shouldn't go in there because it might be something that will kill me. It's already something that will kill you, the fire. >> We've got a live active fire, the firemen are trying to work. Please clear the area, we do not have enough medical personnel to be able to handle you if you get hurt here. >> There's a lot more to being a firefighter than just extinguishing fires. 80% of our business is really non-fire related sorts of activities, including, you know, emergency medical services and rescue services and many other things like that. [MUSIC] >> We gotta [INAUDIBLE]. >> This is the fire only seconds after it began to take off. Winds were gusting 25 miles an hour, and as they blew, the fire roared. This was the first home to go. It is on Buckingham Boulevard, from this point, the fire could not be stopped. [INAUDIBLE] [SOUND] [INAUDIBLE] >> They should have, these people don't understand. They gotta leave, they gotta leave the park here. [NOISE] >> [INAUDIBLE]. [NOISE] >> I mean, when we woke up that morning, we knew it was different, because the wind was wet, it was warm, it was just very strange, and we were making jokes that morning, thinking, oh my God, this is earthquake weather, something's bad is going to happen. But we didn't think there was going to be a fire. >> And I had a big picture window overlooking the ridge where the fire started. So when I looked up Sunday morning, I saw the point on top near Chrisley Peak, near Marlboro Terrace where the fire started and what came from it, what looked like a big dragon of fire sweeping down with this horrible raging sound from the Santa Anna winds. It shocked the hell out of me. It scared me literally to death. >> We look up at the climate, and there is this humongous black sky that is overwhelming. And then the enormity, and the fear, and the devastation of what might be going on kind of came in on me. >> I made the decision to run for it, right at the starting of the narrow part of Charing Cross Road here. As I was running it was really dark, because of the smoke. I had to use the cars that were already burning on the side of the road, as sort of like markers, for me to run. Because it was so dark, and I had to stay close to the hillside, and that's the reason I was burnt more on the right side. My right arm and my right leg were burnt the most. >> But you kept going? >> Something just kept telling me to run, I felt that. It was so hot that day. If you stopped, this may be a contradiction in terms, but you'd almost be frozen, it was so hot. As I reached the end of Charing Cross Road, there were other people running along, too. I think it was a teenager slipped and fell and I picked up her up, put her back on her feet and told her let's get going. She said okay, so I hope she made it out of the fire safely, I didn't see her after that. But as I was picking her up for a split second I saw two bodies I believe somebody told me later it might've been the police officer who died and one of the other people he was helping trying to evacuate at the time. That's something that I'll never forget. >> We put ourselves between the flames and the people who are evacuating. And we're trying to lay a big water curtain with our water cannon so these people could escape. Get in our cars and leave. In one place we stayed a little too long, and we became trapped, surrounded on all four sides by walls of flame. And we threw all of our equipment up on top, and we all jumped in. And the two gentlemen in the back got in a fetal position, and we crouched down, rolled up all the windows. And my driver says, what do you want to do? And I said well, we don't really have a choice, we have to drive through this. And we had heard earlier that one of the fire departments had gotten stuck, and they lost their rig, and they had to run for it. We, We, not knowing if these rumors were true, we've decided that we had to take a chance and drive through this physical wall of flame. It was probably about 50 foot thick, and it traversed the street, kind of an East and West direction. My driver just stopped, literally holding the steering wheel very tight, and he says, what would you like me to do? I said, stay in the center of the street and drive through it. I said, and if we make it through this, the beer's on me. So, it's kind of funny that the emotions that you experience, the film rolls, and you kind of get up to age ten or 12 before you're through the flames, and you go, okay. We made it. Let's go try to make a difference somewhere else. So, even as a firefighter, I'm. You're trained not to panic, and you're experiencing all kinds of conditions all the time. You go on a lot of different calls. There are times when we also get scared as well, and that was one of them. >> Tuesday morning after the Sunday morning fire, I remember waking up in a very dark hotel room feeling displaced, and that's when I finally really, really cried. I just felt like my most intimate friend died. Because my place was like a sanctuary. It was really lovely. I had a lot of beautiful things, and my own artwork. Art collection. >> On Wednesday when I first came up here, we parked up by the top of tunnel road and walked in. And as I walked by and saw each neighbor's home destroyed, I just cried and cried the more I saw. And afterwards I walked up through this whole hillside up to that ridge where you can look down on Hillard. And I just cried all the way. I just cried as I went by the emergency vehicles. It's hard not to cry now just thinking about it. It's just such a terrible thing to see so many people whom you care for have so much tragedy in their lives. There was nothing there except that when we walked along the side of the house, there in the ashes lay our toothbrush cup that I had made in pottery class at CCAC about 32 years ago. It was a cup that when I made it, I made it so it looked really earthy and looked like it had been excavated. [LAUGH] Here it was, being excavated from these ashes. And it just looked so good, it was not broken. My husband and I both kind of wept over this cup. Even the humblest thing looks very beautiful, when there's nothing else. And that became, I think, the symbol of total loss. >> I just didn't, you were depressed a lot of the time I think. I mean, in the beginning we denied it, you know? But then afterwards, like stupid little things you just cry all the time, for silly things. And you just feel always sad and depressed and upset and sort of like a homesick feeling, but you can never go home. It's just like a constant homesick feeling. And then you get really bitter afterwards. It's like, why did this have to happen? Things were going so good. It's just not fair. It's really ruined everything that was going on. Like I'm so far behind in school now, I can't catch up, and it's just not fair. You think you want to come back up here, and you can't come back, there's nothing. >> For several weeks after the fire, if I smelled somebody's fireplace burning and it wafted into the house that I was staying. I called the fire department once because I was scared. And it really was only somebody's fireplace. But I was very jumpy and, as you know, there were a few subsequent fires up in the Berkeley hills, and that was scary too. You think, oh it's going to happen again, like you're in a blitz, in the war, and the bombing could start again. >> See, I went to a football game, about a month ago, and I couldn't stand being in a crowd. I had a feeling of claustrophobia. And to see people sort of having fun by getting drunk and acting stupid and wearing silly hats and these colors, to me, just seemed. It seemed frivolous, and it seemed meaningless and it seemed, it just seemed so silly. I couldn't stand being there, so I somehow made it to the seat, which was really hard because I didn't like being, I was feeling very claustrophobic. And then I left. And visited my 92 year old grandmother. >> Yeah. It was really hard going to the red cross. Because we went in there to declare ourselves homeless, because we knew we didn't have renters insurance, and we knew we would have to get some sort of funding. So it was suggested to us to go to a shelter and put our names down as homeless people. So we went into the shelter, and I had a very hard time doing that. I'm accustomed to being on the other end, helping the homeless people. And not being a victim, and all of a sudden I was one of them, I didn't have anything. And having to take things, like if people were really nice they gave us little bags of a toothbrush and shampoo, and I didn't want anybody to see that I had to walk out with this in my hand. That I had nothing. >> Being with my wife made a big difference. If I had been alone and did not know anyone, it would have been much harder to cope with this. But I just can't say enough about how many people came to us. We had people just one after another calling, writing, showing up, doing things. You know, it was, you just felt that you were buoyed up, in a way that is almost beyond words to describe. It would have been impossible for us not to feel that we were very very special, that we were very very loved, that we were very very cared for. Those things made just an immense difference. >> We're taking our kids on vacation tomorrow. And we're going to leave till Christmas, because I don't want to be here for Christmas, all of Christmas festivities, parties and all that. So, it's interesting, I think we all sort of feel the same way, and our neighbors and friends most of them, everybody I've talked to is going away for the holiday. They just want to avoid sort of the remembrances of the past. >> But if losing your possessions really, really ruins your life, then I think you have to think about what kind of life you're living, because your life is in your heart and your mind and the people you love and what you carry around inside your spirit, and everything else is just a prop. And it's important to realize that, and I think we, in this neighborhood, all got a real good lesson in that insight. But I think that most of the people that I know, my neighbors who I care for, really knew that before, and that's why we're doing so very, very well.