CAL FIRE receives new dozer and transport

CAL FIRE dozer and transport
New dozer and transport for the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. CAL FIRE photo.

The Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection recently received a large piece of fire suppression equipment. (Back in the old days we would lovingly refer to them as a Big Yellow McLeod.)

Here is how it is described by the agency:

CAL FIRE NEU took possession of a new 2018 D6N Caterpillar Dozer and 2019 International HX Series Transport.

The dozer has been modified with an extended track frame which helps with climbing and side hill performance. The engine compartment is configured with a 75 gallon water fire suppression system that can be activated by the operator for fires within the dozer. For operator safety the cab has a pressurized filtration environmental cab system and complete roll over protection system. An advanced lighting package will increase night time vision and allow safer operation under dusty and dark conditions.

The dozer and transport both have the CAL FIRE Automatic Vehicle Location System which operates from radio, satellite, and cellular.

CAL FIRE dozer and transport
New dozer and transport for the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. CAL FIRE photo.

The transport is has a Cummins X15 Performance motor that produces 605 Horse Power and 2050 lb-ft Torque. It is mounted to an 18 speed transmission.

Both Pieces of equipment will service the entire state but are based out of the Nevada City CAL FIRE Station.

One of the two operators assigned to this equipment will be Joe Kennedy recently made famous by videos showing his heroic efforts saving citizens at the Camp Fire in Paradise.

The other operator is Shawn Entz who is a fourth generation Nevada County resident who has over 20 years logging and firefighting in California.

If anyone has a link to the videos referred to above, let us know in a comment.


Worker clearing road in Butte Fire scar killed by rolling log

Butte Fire
The Butte Fire at 6:09 p.m. on September 10, as seen from above Jackson, CA, looking southeast. Photo by Matthew Rhodes.

A Calaveras County employee working on a brush clearing project along a road in the scar from the Butte Fire was killed Monday March 18 by a rolling tree or log. County Public Works personnel were working with a CAL FIRE Conservation Camp crew inside the perimeter of the fire that burned 71,000 acres south of Jackson, California in September, 2015.

Kevin Raggio, Calaveras County Coroner, identified the man as 57-year-old Ansel John Bowman.

A very brief “Blue Sheet”preliminary report released by CAL FIRE said the county employee “was hit by a previously downed tree and suffered fatal injuries”. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Butte Fire destroyed 233 residences and 175 outbuildings, and may have caused the deaths of two civilians.

Investigators determine that a power line caused the Thomas Fire

The fire burned 281,893 acres near Santa Barbara, destroyed 1,063 structures, and caused the death of one civilian and one firefighter

Thomas Fire
Thomas Fire, Ventura, CA, Los Padres National Forest, 2017. USFS photo.

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) has determined that an arcing power line caused the Thomas Fire that destroyed 1,063 structures and caused the death of a civilian and a firefighter.

Investigators found that strong winds on December 4, 2017 forced Southern California Edison power lines to come in contact with each other, resulting in molten metal falling to the ground which ignited vegetation. The common term for this is “line slap.”

Measured east to west the Thomas Fire spread for over 42 miles, stretching between Fillmore and Santa Barbara in Southern California.

map Thomas Fire
Map of the west side of the Thomas Fire. The red line was the perimeter on December 23, 2017. Click to enlarge.

CAL FIRE Fire Apparatus Engineer Cory Iverson of the San Diego/San Diego County Fire Authority was overrun by fire and killed December 14, 2017 while battling the blaze. A 70-year-old woman died in a car accident while fleeing the fire on December 6, 2017.

At one point nearly 9,000 emergency personnel were working on the fire.

The investigative team was comprised of four agencies: CAL FIRE, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, and the U.S. Forest Service.

California to activate National Guard to help reduce wildfire risk

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has put together a list of 35 projects around the state where they intend to reduce the wildfire risk for residents. This follows multiple large fire disasters in 2017 and 2018 that killed over 100 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. In many areas those not directly affected by the flames were exposed to hazardous levels of smoke for days or weeks at a time.

The State will establish incident bases in proximity to vulnerable communities and coordinate fuels treatment operations from those facilities utilizing the Incident Command System. The Governor will activate the National Guard to help complete the work.

The projects, identified and planned at the local level, are intended to reduce the public safety risk for over 200 communities. Examples of work to be done include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and establishment of ingress and egress corridors. CAL FIRE believes these projects can be implemented immediately if their recommendations are taken to enable the work.

Recognizing that entry level employees in California are not highly compensated, and often have challenges finding affordable housing in areas where they work, the state will provide additional government housing for seasonal state employees working on forest management and fuels reduction.

In addition to large-scale fuel reduction projects near communities, CAL FIRE understands that residents have to also do their part to reduce the flammable material in their home ignition zone within 100 feet of structures, and especially immediately adjacent — within 5 feet.

Details on the projects can be found online at CAL FIRE expects to keep the list updated.

Priority Landscapes wildfire protection
(Click to see a larger version)

The entire 28-page report about this new initiative can be found here.

CLIF to donate 100% of profits from one of their bars to 2nd responder fund

The first project will help build a new Butte Humane Society facility that will shelter and care for animals impacted by the Camp Fire in California.

I first learned about Clif Bars after discovering that a former coworker, Bruce Lymburn, was the company’s General Counsel. Bruce and I were members of the El Cariso Hot Shots back in the day.

Clif seems like an interesting place to work. Clif Bars are mostly made from organic ingredients, employees can bring their dogs to work, the company gives back to the community through the CLIF Bar Family Foundation, employees are encouraged to volunteer in the community on company time, and they can take two and a half hours of paid exercise each week with free personal training.

The San Francisco Bay Area company made the news the other day with the creation of the CLIF Second Responder Fund.

Most everyone knows what first responders are. They are the first to arrive at emergency scenes — the ones you see in the news — law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. Second responders are the ones that work during the recovery phase, which can last for days, weeks, or months. Examples include power companies, communication companies, hazardous waste cleanup, and services providing food, road clearing, security, first aid, crowd control, sanitation, temporary housing, and social services. The establishment of the CLIF Second Responder Fund will support some of the unmet needs of these second responder efforts.

Clif BarOne hundred percent of all net profits from the sale of Sierra Trail Mix CLIF BAR® Energy Bars will go toward establishing the fund for the long term. Clif Bar & Company has a long history of post-disaster work in communities, often serving as a “second responder” by volunteering, providing financial support and food donations.

The first project of the fund will provide $1.5 million to the community affected by the Camp Fire in Butte County, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. This fund will help the community break ground on a new state-of-the-art Butte Humane Society facility that will shelter and care for animals impacted by the Camp Fire disaster, as well as serve as an emergency center for Northern California in the event of future disasters.

“The devastation created by these fires is unfathomable,” said Gary Erickson co-owner and co-CEO of Clif Bar & Company. “After the flames are extinguished and the camera crews leave, these communities are still desperate for help. This fund will help this community in our own backyard and other communities around the country for years to come.”

The fund was inspired by the work of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. owners Ken Grossman and Katie Gonser, whose community in Chico, California was among those devastated by the Camp Fire. Like Clif Bar, Sierra Nevada is also a family-owned business and the two families have been friends for years. When the fire was in its early stages, Erickson and his wife, Clif Bar & Company co-owner and co-CEO Kit Crawford, reached out to Grossman and Gonser to see how Clif Bar could help.

“When Gary and Kit called, we knew we needed help for our community’s animals. As we listened to the stories and responded to the needs of the community, we knew that help would still be needed long after the initial push of relief had waned,” said Gonser. “The devastation was enormous, with many local families distraught over the lack of care of displaced animals. This shows what two businesses can achieve by working together.” Grossman and Gonser have already donated the land for the new facility.

“Clif is a company full of animal lovers, with many employees bringing their dogs to work with them every day. Not only are animals amazing companions, they’re family,” added Kit Crawford, Co-Owner and Co-CEO of Clif Bar & Company. “We are proud to champion this initial effort and know that this fund will be ongoing to address other needs following national disasters around the country.”

It’s estimated that more than 20,000 animals were impacted by the Camp Fire. The Butte County Humane Society responded immediately, reuniting residents with their pets, providing thousands of pounds of pet food to people who were displaced, and caring for hundreds of injured pets. Through the experience, the staff learned each day and knew a new facility with an expanded mission was needed.

The new Butte Humane Society facility can serve as a centralized information headquarters for animal welfare groups in order to coordinate collective long-term recovery efforts and in preparation for disaster support throughout Northern California. Additionally, in collaboration with other first and second responder animal organizations, the new campus can be used as a crisis evacuation site during local and regional disasters. BHS hopes this will serve as a model for emergency preparedness and response around the country.

The new Sierra Trail Mix packaging will be rolled out nationally this summer in stores and online.

1972 El Cariso Hotshot crew
Part of the 1972 El Cariso Hotshot crew. Bruce Lymburn is at the end of the back row, on the left. Missing: Ron Campbell (superintendent) and Bill Gabbert (took the photo).

In 2007 and again in 2008 Senators Hillary Clinton and Peter King introduced the Skilled Trades Second Responders Act of 2008, which would have established a national program for the training, certification, registration, tracking, and integration of skilled construction workers to assist first responders in responding to disasters, including natural and manmade disasters and terrorist attacks. Both bills died in committee.

Feather River Hospital evacuated 280 patients and staff as Camp Fire approached

Nine buildings on the campus burned as well as the lower level of the hospital

Feather River Hospital Camp fIre burned
Screenshot from a video shot by Feather River Hospital employees as the fire approached.

The details about the evacuation of Feather River Hospital as the Camp Fire tore through Paradise, California on November 8, 2018 were not covered throughly by the national news. The top stories were the 85 people that were killed and the 14,000 homes and businesses destroyed.

The NFPA Journal has an article that covers some of the facts about the evacuation.

The fire was reported at 6:29 a.m. near a high voltage power line northeast of Paradise. Ryan Ashlock, the “administrator on call” that morning, saw the smoke at 7 a.m. when he arrived at the hospital on the east side of Paradise (map). At 7:15 employees could smell smoke inside the building. As the fire pushed by strong winds got closer, at 7:45 Mr. Ashlock called a code triage external, which means there’s something going on in the outside world that they need to be aware of, and that units need to prepare themselves for anything that might be coming.

At 8 a.m. the hospital was within a mandatory evacuation area. At first the staff thought they would be safer inside the building and could shelter in place, in part because the structure had firewalls that can retard the spread of a fire through the building. But a few minutes later the blaze had approached both ends of the hospital’s campus. Mr. Ashlock ordered a full evacuation at 8:07. The staff escorted ambulatory patients, pushed some in wheel chairs, and wheeled others in their beds to the emergency room entrance or the helipad.

The staff made calls in attempts to get ambulances and helicopters to transport patients, but due to gridlocked traffic and the fire, only two ambulances from Chico made it to Paradise near the end of the evacuation. One arrived at the hospital, while the other caught fire and burned. Helicopters could not land at the helipad due to the smoke.

By 8:50 they had evacuated 80 patients and 200 employees. One critically ill intensive-care patient died that day.

Feather River Hospital Camp fIre burned
Screenshot from KRCR TV showing hospital equipment left at the helipad after the evacuation.

Below are excerpts from the NFPA article, in the words of Mr. Ashlock:

8:20 a.m.

Our evacuation plan called for ambulances to come from the town of Paradise. But it’s a small community, so there aren’t many ambulances readily available. Most would come from Butte County. But we weren’t seeing any of those local ambulances and we didn’t know where they were. We were also concerned that ambulances from Chico might not get up here because of the traffic resulting from the entire town of Paradise being evacuated.

Someone over in the emergency department figured out that ambulances weren’t coming. There were Paradise police and Butte County Sheriff’s Office people on site, and I went out to talk to them. As nicely as I could, I asked them, “Where are the firefighters to protect the hospital, and where are the ambulances to help us evacuate?” They said, “We’ve called, and no one’s responding.”

The decision was made to start putting patients into the emergency vehicles that happened to be there, and the rest would have to be put into the personal vehicles of hospital employees—we weren’t going to get off that campus by sitting and waiting for ambulances or firefighters to show up. Clinicians got patients into wheelchairs, patients who could walk were escorted down to the emergency department, patients who were in the ICU or who were unable to walk or get into wheelchairs were rolled out in their beds.

8:50 a.m.

All patients were out of the hospital. The fire stayed about 400 yards away because of the defensible area around the hospital. But the wind started to kick up and embers were blowing over us, and spot fires were starting all around us. Our central plant, where we have our boilers and chillers and generators, was starting to catch fire about the time we got everyone out of the main hospital building. Some of our buildings at the edge of campus were burning, along with our IT building.

Mr. Ashlock said the lower level of the hospital burned pretty extensively, and of the 15 administrative buildings on the campus, nine burned, as well as one clinic.

The video below was shot by Feather River Hospital employees as the fire approached.