After two weeks of battle, firefighting moms and dads reunited with their families outside the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's eastern headquarters in Marlborough on Thursday night.
The six private sector firefighters and 14 state environmental employees spent 14 days knocking down wildfires in California.
"We hiked in several miles in the wilderness area, the Thousand Lakes wilderness area where we fought fire directly using hand tools, we dug line, we coordinated air to ground resources with helicopter suppression," said Chris Renshaw, who served as crew boss on the trip.
The crews worked 16-hour shifts, slept in tents and ate a minimal amount of hot meals. But, they said the gritty and grueling firefighting was worth it.
"It felt great. Especially walking out on the last day and all the stuff you saw flaming up and smoking just dead quiet when you walked out. It felt really good," said Kate Knight, a DEEP employee.
"We were able to slow the fire's progress and then halt it, saving property and lives," he said.
With five California fires still raging and possibly more popping up, crews could be packing up their gear again soon. They said they'll be ready after some good sleep and time with family.
"That was a wonderful surprise. I didn't think I was going to see you tonight," Knight said to her son, Tyler.
Helping fight fire in other states is routine, according to DEEP officials. This was the first trip this season.