CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- A large cloud of smoke rolled into the air as the Supply Management Unit lot erupted in flames, May 16, — a stomach-churning site, especially in a combat zone.
Marines from Crash Fire Rescue and Heavy Equipment operators with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 were among the first on the scene. Plowing right into the heart of the inferno, the heavy equipment operators worked hard to contain the fire by pushing dirt onto the blaze.
"The bulldozers played a huge role in containing the fire," said Sgt. Travis Hill, a heavy equipment lot manager for MWSS-274, who drove one of the bulldozers. "The dirt provided a berm to keep the fire from spreading."
The Marines with Crash Fire Rescue also worked to subdue the blaze with water.
"We immediately started doing our jobs," said Cpl. Nathan Corthell. "We laid out the hose and started spraying it down with the roof turret to cool and suppress the fire."
As if the furious fire on the base wasn't trouble enough for the Marines, a massive sand storm hit the base in the middle of the fight, blinding the Marines and stoking the fire.
"Right before the sand storm, we all thought we could get the fire contained and out," said Corthell. "As soon as the sandstorm hit, it started moving the fire around and it immediately became hard to contain. The sand got so thick you couldn't see three or four feet in front of you."
Due to the sand storm, the fire continued to burn and engulfed two of the squadron's P-19 fire trucks. All of the Marines near the fire were able to escape safely and regroup to continue the fight.
A day after the fire started the Marines were still putting out small fires and assessing the damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Thanks to the hard work of the MWSS-274 Marines, the fire was contained to the supply lot and never spread to any of the nearby facilities.