Urban Search and Rescue firefighters return from Montecito mudslides

For the Pasadena Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team, this was no doubt the most challenging and difficult professional time of their lives. They spent the past 8 days up in the Montecito area, part of the massive first responder effort to try to save lives, find victims and sadly recover bodies.

''Unbelievable'' was perhaps the most common description when I talked to these men as they returned to their home station today. "You train for this but nothing can simulate the real thing.'' I mean I get it...I was there too, though my job means nothing compared to theirs, saw the thick muck they could barely get through, the challenging conditions that made the ''search and rescue'' part of their job almost impossible, the way massive boulders were tossed around, crushed cars, splintered houses.

They didn't pull anyone out alive, but they did what they were trained to do under extremely difficult conditions, painstakingly searching what was left of houses, empty lots, mud filled fields, until they were satisfied no one was there. These guys have gone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and of course fires and floods.

This was the worst. By far.

At any rate, welcome back, and thanks.