PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WBTW) – Two firefighters and two lieutenants from Midway Fire Rescue are back home after being deployed to the Pinnacle Mountain wildfire.
“There is no picture that will describe what we have done, where we were or what we have been through,” said Lt. Pete Copeland.
Copeland, along with Firefighter Ryan Matthews, Firefighter Adham DuMont and Lt. Jesse Morgan, worked on the fire for four days in mid-November.
“The first night we got in they took us over to the cabins,” said Morgan. “The guy that dropped us off said, ‘Oh hey by the way, the fire is burning right over there so you might wake up to fire all around your cabin.’”
The men focused on tending to firebreaks, which are created to stop the wildfires.
“The experience was different,” said Morgan. “It was a lot different than what we’re used to down here. A lot of steep terrain, a lot of different types of timber and different fuels to deal with.”
Morgan said there was one moment where he got a little nervous and his adrenaline began to pump faster.
“Everything was fine,” said Morgan. “And then it wasn’t real fast. The fire changed on us and jumped the break and took off and there’s nothing you can do,”
Luckily, Morgan said their training and awareness of their surroundings helped get them out.
Copeland has been on three deployments and said being on the mountain and fighting fire is indescribable.
“You can’t describe to people what it’s like to have fire rolling up over your heads,” he added. “Or what it’s like to see the fire coming up to your break and hoping that your break stops it.”
While the experience was difficult, all four men said they would do it again. They hope to use what they learned to enhance training for their department.
“It’s definitely an experience that you definitely have to pay attention to different things. So we can teach these guys and show them what actually can happen real fast,” said Morgan.
Matthews said this was something you truly had to experience to believe.
“People will never understand the amount of work that goes into actually keeping that fire from spreading,” he added. “Nobody will every understand how hot that fire gets and how fast it moves.”