A group of volunteers uses mopeds to help fight the fires.
My cameraman and I snaked our way back through the labyrinth of treacherous roads that dissects Deerhorn Valley in San Diego, with our SUV hugging the edge on each hairpin turn. This mountainous region had been getting the business end of the Harris Fire for days and we'd just been given a front seat to the fury of flames that crews on the ground and in the air were battling.
As we continued back down the mountain, we discovered that authorities weren't the only ones doing their part to get these wildfires under control. A group of men dressed in makeshift fire suits were taking a break from their self-appointed mission. With some wearing baseball caps instead of helmets, and bandanas over their mouths instead of facemasks, these men were fighting the fire their way, with shovels.
For the last four days, they had been defending their community by surveying the ground that crews had already worked on to ensure the fire didn't re-ignite in places, which is sometimes the case. They'd shovel dirt on smoky areas of charred earth or pour water on flare-ups of flame from bottles they carried.
I was impressed with their ingenuity and sense of duty but what struck me most was their choice of vehicle: the moped. They told me it was the ideal transportation choice for smoothly navigating the uncertain terrain and for getting in and out of places quickly. With the tiny stature of their bikes and the bizarre uniforms they donned, they looked like a comedic version of a biker gang, but with a very serious purpose.
With fires off in the distance, smoke in the air and ash landing all around us, the setting was close to what I imagine Hell must look like and so I came to think of my new biker gang friends as a whole different breed of the Hells Angels .
--By Chuck Hadad, 360 Producer