When the Tenaja Fire's flames started threatening structures in Murrieta's Copper Canyon community, Eric, who declined to share his last name, ignored the evacuation order and stayed behind to defend his home.
The afternoon winds kicked up around 2 p.m. on Thursday, as usual, and two privately contracted firefighters battled the wildfire flames nearby that sent surrounding oak trees up in hissing flames.
Eric stood back, wetting down his house with a hose as the flames licked up the side of the hill, touching his fence and threatening the neighboring property, before ultimately succumbing to the firefighters.
"These guys are awesome," a sweat-drenched Eric said as he stood atop his roof with a towel over his mouth and nose to protect himself from the smoke. "They saved my fence." These privately contracted firefighters — who work alongside the many municipal, county, state, federal firefighter crews that respond to wildfires across the state — aren't just a luxury for the rich.