Buy Photo


<p>Firefighters from the California Department of Forestry, examine the burned-out crew transport rig in Twin Pines, Calif., Friday, where four firefighters died and one was seriously burned fighting the Esperanza fire, Thursday.</p>

Nearly two dozen Kern County firefighters headed south to battle the Esperanza fire that has already claimed the lives of four firefighters and critically injured a fifth, Battalion Chief Heidi Dinkler said Friday.

Five engines designed to protect homes with 22 personnel were set to leave town at about noon Friday, Dinkler said. The local firefighters will be battling the blaze where the brush meets people's homes, Dinkler said.

The fire had consumed about 24,000 acres and 10 structures as of Friday morning, Dinkler said. The firefighters were killed when they were overtaken by fast-moving flames.

"It sounds almost like a cliche, but we do feel like we're a part of a family," Dinkler said. "Even though we may not know these people personally, we feel a loss."

Dinkler said that although the deaths were tragic, firefighters would still want to carry on the important work the men were doing when they died.

"Going to a fire where there's been fatalities, there's probably an extra degree of caution," Dinkler said. "People probably say goodbye and 'I love you' to their loved ones a little more than usual."