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Manteca firefighters battle blaze 36 straight hours
The lone firefighter putting out a hotspot on a massive tree is Manteca fire Captain Franco Torrice. - photo by PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

Manteca’s strike team fighting the Santa Cruz fire near the Bonny Doon community of Swanson expects to be on the fire line for another three to four days, according to Manteca Interim Fire Chief Kirk Waters.

Waters said the crew, under the direction of Captain Franco Torrice, laid some 6,500 feet of hose line from their engine Sunday reaching over a mile into the trees.  Crew members carried rolls of hose on their backs for the extension of their line – clamping it off with each extension.

“They keep extending that line from the engine so they can reach the fire inside the forest – something they train on here so when out they are a finely tuned machine,” Waters said.

After arriving in the Santa Cruz Mountains last Thursday the Manteca firefighters were first assigned to structure protection.  

“It they are there more than three or four more days, we will consider rotating them out depending on how they are doing,” the chief said Monday evening.

Firefighter Traig Smith said he was hoping for a less steep terrain as he was beginning to “feel like a mountain goat with a fire hose.”

The Manteca crew is part of the 4803A Strike Team serving with engine companies from Woodbridge, Tracy, Stockton and Lodi.  In their 24-hour rest break they can go to areas in the base camp and sleep usually in trailers where it is dark and they can get some rest.