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Local firefighters return home after fighting fires in California

Smoke from the Bear Fire in Santa Cruz, Calif. hovers over ridge near the neighborhood where the strike team from the Tri-Cities was assigned to protect. Photo courtesy: Tom Harper.{ }

Several fire fighters arrived back in the Tri-Cities area Friday night, one week after they left to fight raging fires in the state of California.

The strike team made it back around 7 P.M. after traveling about 12 hours from Redding, Calif. They had been released Thursday morning.

Benton County Fire District #4 Captain Tom Harper was one of those who returned.

He says the group was assigned neighborhoods to protect structures from the Atlas Fire in Napa and the Bear Fire in Santa Cruz.

He also describes seeing some of the burned areas as sobering sights: "Houses were just gone. Ashes. Just like you see on the national news. We drove through a neighborhood that was pretty much gone and I remember one guy described it as what the moon looked like in pictures. Just barren ground."

Harper says one thing he is looking forward now that’s he’s home is the chance to sleep in his own bed.

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