WALNUT CREEK -- While firefighters battled the rapidly-growing Mount Diablo fire Sunday, unknown burglars took personal possessions from one fire station and attempted to break into another, authorities said.
Authorities don't know exactly when the burglar or burglars broke through the locked back door of Contra Costa County Fire Station 7, at 1050 Walnut Blvd. Firefighters said the burglars broke into lockers and backpacks, taking numerous valuable items, from iPads to watches to wedding rings.
The incident left fire engineer Judon Cherry feeling "violated."
Cherry had just come off a 24-hour shift fighting the smoke and flames on Mount Diablo when he and two others returned and realized what had happened. Cherry said he had his iPad 2 and a watch stolen.
Because some of the firefighters have yet to return to the station, it is still unclear just how much was taken.
"This is like a second home," he said as he sat in the dining area of the station Tuesday. "You just don't expect something like this to happen."
Authorities believe that the same burglar or burglars attempted a short time later to break into Station 3, at 1520 Rossmoor Parkway, but crews were in the station when they heard a rattling noise, said Contra Costa Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Aubert.
Aubert said whoever was trying to break in quickly fled the area, and nothing was taken from the station.
No suspect description was available Tuesday, but Cherry said police spent hours at the station, investigating. However, there is little to go on, Lt. Steve Gorski said, because no one saw the suspect.
"We would love to have someone in custody," said Gorski with the Walnut Creek Police Department. "Those poor guys were out fighting that fire all day."
There are no security cameras at Station 7, but Cherry said he is hopeful that the burglary will convince fire department leadership to consider a surveillance system.
Still, Cherry said the feeling that someone went through his and his comrades' possessions -- while they fought to keep the community safe -- is not an easy thought to shake.
"It was just a long day," he said.