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Friday, February 15, 2019

San Francisco Firehouse Cat Faces Eviction

San Francisco Fire Department officials are telling Station 49 that Edna, a feral cat that's been visiting the firehouse for the past four years, has to go.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, FIRE DEPARTMENT - Dalmatians might be the most well-known firehouse mascot, but a tortoiseshell cat named Edna has purred her way into the hearts of firefighters at a San Francisco station.

Edna began visiting Fire Station 49 as a feral kitten four years ago and since then has made the station her home. Now, firefighters are reportedly being told to get rid of her.

“We slowly started to show her love and care, and she [became] our family,” station employees wrote in an email to SF Gate, adding that the cat helps relieve employees’ stress. “Now she is always there, and is the most docile, loving baby. We take her to the vet now, give her treats and she calls our station home now.”

KGO-TV reported that firefighters suspect an anonymous caller complained about Edna being around firefighting equipment. In response, Fire Department officials have asked the station to remove the cat, according to the news station.

An employee who answered the phone at Station 49 on Monday declined to comment on the situation and referred The Times to a department spokesman. He did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Photos on Edna’s Instagram account show firefighters and staff cuddling and petting the feline. Using the hashtag #ednastays, the group is asking the public to send emails to department leaders to convince them to allow Edna to remain at the station.

Employees referred to Edna as the “station angel” in an Instagram post celebrating National Cat Day in October. The photo captured a sleeping Edna curled on a blanket.

“You’re purrfect,” they wrote.

Late Monday afternoon, the Fire Department said Edna has been adopted by a member of its ambulance staff.

The department added that it has had a policy prohibiting animals on its property for more than 20 years and that the removal order was for Edna’s own safety.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


©2019 the Los Angeles Times

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Judge: No More Arrests in CA Ghost Ship Fire Case

A defense motion asking for 14 more people to be arrested in connection with the fatal Oakland warehouse fire in 2016 was denied by the judge in the case.

FEBRUARY 12, 2019

Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire(CA)
The view outside the scorched Ghost Ship warehouse building in Oakland, CA. The blaze tore through the two-story building on the 1300 block of 31st Avenue, killing 36 people. JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP/TNS

OAKLAND, Calif. — It’s a rare move to see defendants ask for more defendants to join them in a criminal case, but a judge denied a motion Monday asking for 14 more people to be arrested in the Ghost Ship fire case.

Attorneys for defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris filed the motion to compel a citizen’s arrest, which called for the arrest of 14 others for the fatal Dec. 2, 2016, warehouse fire in East Oakland that killed 36 people. Included in the list was landlord Chor Ng, and her children Eva and Kai Ng, who served as building managers.

The motion itself alleged probable cause to arrest the list of 14 people, who in the months and years leading up to the deadly fire had all been inside the warehouse itself either as inspectors or partygoers, and knew of the dangers inside. The list includes a building inspector, a Child Protective Services agent, fire department members and Oakland police officers who responded to calls at the warehouse, named the Ghost Ship.

Although Judge Trina Thompson said Monday that she was “intrigued” by the motion in this case, she pointed out that the judicial branch did not have the power to bring charges against anyone.

Just before denying the motion after lengthy arguments by both the prosecution and the defense, Judge Thompson also pointed out that her ruling did not preclude the defense from bringing evidence on a third-party culpability. This defense strategy is used by attorneys to present evidence that points to another person or people, besides the defendants themselves.

Prosecutor Autrey James argued that there was insufficient evidence so far to bring charges against the Ngs “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard of proof in criminal cases.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley herself told this newspaper last year that prosecutors could not “pin that” responsibility on the warehouse owner, the Ng family. But she also said prosecutors have not given up the possibility, if some new evidence comes to light.

James also argued that the arrest of individuals is a “discretionary act,” and that arrests cannot be ordered.

Almena’s defense attorney, Tony Serra, pointed the finger at politics and a public relations firm for the lack of arrest of others besides his client.

“There is a white elephant in the courtroom that no one is acknowledging … that this is a political case,” Serra said.

Serra referred to the alleged $90,000 hiring of Sam Singer, a well-known crisis manager who has a public relations firm based in San Francisco. Serra maintained Singer was hired to influence prosecutors so that the Ng family, fire department, inspectors and others would not be charged. Serra said it was “obvious” that the landlords should be charged.

Singer told this newspaper in January that he was hired to represent the Ng family to assist in communication issues surrounding the tragedy.

“I’m honored that anyone would speak so highly of my work, but there’s no truth in me making charges go away,” Singer said in January.

Tyler Smith, an attorney who represents Harris, said in his arguments Monday that Eva Ng knew when the lease was being signed for the warehouse by Almena and others that the use of the building was being changed. The warehouse, formerly used for dairy storage, was to be used for an artist warehouse, for public outreach and gatherings. Because the owners themselves had the legal duty to make sure the warehouse was safe, everything can be traced back to Eva Ng, Smith argued.

He said if the Ngs had properly followed the rules, the building would have had sprinklers, illuminated exit signs, smoke detectors and other safety measures that the prosecution has argued for against Harris and Almena, Smith said.

Smith also said her brother, Kai Ng, was told that people were living at the warehouse.

As reported by this news organization, police had visited the warehouse a year before the fire and knew of illegal parties. There were also reports from witnesses that firefighters from a nearby station had not only entered the Ghost Ship but also had attended a party there. An off-duty firefighter also attended his wife’s work holiday party there, according to records.

But the prosecution has maintained that it was the reckless actions of Almena and Harris that caused the deaths of the 36 people trapped inside the warehouse.


©2019 East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
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CAL FIRE / USFS Mariposa 2019 Fireline Safety Awareness For Hired Vendors

2019 Fire line Safety Awareness For Hired Vendors

8hrs required annually for fire-line assignments with CAL FIRE and USFS

We have the following 6 Dates available:
March 22, 2019 March 23, 2019
April 5, 2019
April 12, 2019 April 13, 2019
April 27, 2019
Mariposa Fairgrounds, Build. D 8am – 5pm

Class limited to 40 students per session $60.00 per person
Advanced registration with payment required, limited seats available

This year State Fire Training will Require you SFT ID number. Please go
to the link below to see if they have your number before you get to class
Send payment with contact information to

Contact: Mike Mills
5514 Meadow Lane
Mariposa, Ca. 95338

If you believe your social security number is on file with SFT then you
may use the Legacy SFT ID Look Up tool
( . This web
page will ask for your name and last four of your SSN. If there is a
match, the page will display your SFT ID number

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Ventura County Sheriff SAR Team member killed, two injured in accident #CALODD

We regret to pass on that a member of the Ventura County Search-and-Rescue Team was killed in the Line Of Duty and two others were critically injured in a crash

The multi-vehicle accident involved a total of 10 patients (including an LA County Firefighter) on the 5 Freeway near Pyramid Lake during a heavy rainstorm around 0730 this morning.

A total of 3 rescue team members were involved in the collision. One of them was pronounced dead, another is in critical condition and a third suffered minor injuries. 7 other people were involved in the wreck as well.

One of the rescue teams were on their way to a training exercise when they came upon the initial traffic crash at Vista Del Lago-in Los Angeles County. They stopped to help and while there, a vehicle plowed into the scene.

The identity of the deceased search-and-rescue team member was not immediately released.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

CAL FIRE Denied Access to Private Firefighting Crews Sent by Insurance Companies

CAL FIRE Denied Access to Private Firefighting Crews Sent by Insurance Companies

It is statewide policy not to admit ‘civilians’ during an evacuation order, and that includes private firefighters.

A number of Malibu residents’ homeowners insurance policies include the use of private firefighting companies that work independently from county firefighters. The private crews protect specific homes under contract with insurance companies, and attempt to arrive ahead of the flames. These companies have been around since the 1980s, but have become even more common and in-demand as the risk of major wildfires in California has increased over the years.

The private crews emphasize doing fire prevention work as quickly as possible around an individual house in advance of the fire. They will rake leaves, clear gutters, remove debris from roofs, close windows and vents, spray retardant on brush, and, in some cases, spray the house with gel to protect it from flying embers. They’ll also remove stacked wood, clear brush and patio furniture cushions, and anything else around the house that’s highly flammable. Their fleet trucks carry water for putting out hot spots.

While benefits seem obvious for insurance companies, statewide fire officials point out they complicate firefighting efforts for central command, since they cannot communicate readily with rank-and-file crews. Now, in the fallout of the Woolsey Fire—where resources were spread so thin many homes did not see any fire engines at all—questions are being asked about why private crews were turned away.

Malibu resident Ron Krisel, who is insured by USAA (only available to active, retired and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military), was eligible for the services of a private firefighting crew. However, he was notified by USAA that when their crew checked in with the joint command for the Woolsey Fire, they were told by CAL FIRE that they would not be allowed to come into Malibu and, something to the effect that, if they disobeyed, they would never be allowed in during a fire from now on.

Krisel’s house burned down the day after the fire came through—a casualty of still-blowing embers. He feels strongly that if the private crew contracted by USAA had been allowed to come in, his house would’ve been saved—they would’ve kept an eye on the burning embers and hot spots and put them out before the house caught fire. County firefighters never showed up.

When The Malibu Times contacted Scott McLean, public information officer for CAL FIRE Woolsey Fire, to ask why, he said he wasn’t familiar with this particular incident, and would only be able to talk about their policy in general.

McLean verified that private fire companies must check in with the authorities at the joint command to show documentation from the insurance company and the address of the specific house.

“It’s a common thing—no big deal. We rarely turn them away,” McLean said. “But if there’s an evacuation order for the area the house is in, they cannot come in.” That’s the most obvious reason why the crew coming to Krisel’s house was turned away—the Malibu evacuation order must have already been in effect.

McLean explained they consider private firefighters to be civilians, regardless of the firefighting experience and training they may have. In addition, he said they “do not just drop hoses on the ground and start fighting a fire” the way county firefighters do. “They’re not part of the [official] fire service” or chain of command.

“From the standpoint of first responders, they are not viewed as assets to be deployed. They’re viewed as a responsibility,” Carroll Wills, communications director for California Professional Firefighters, a labor union representing rank-and-file firefighters in the state, told the LA Times.

During a wildfire, the private crews say they may not be able to visit every home insured under the program, but prioritize based on the fire’s movement and where homes have a high likelihood of being destroyed without their assistance.

As the danger of fire has increased in recent years, so has the use of private firefighters by insurance companies like USAA, Chubb, AIG, Liberty Mutual, Safeco and Nationwide. While some offer the service as an “opt-in” benefit that costs extra money, others, like USAA and Chubb, have made it a standard part of their policy.

One of the largest private firefighting companies, Wildfire Defense Systems, has contracts with a dozen different insurance companies, but doesn’t contract with individuals. When the Woolsey, Hill and Camp fires broke out last month, they deployed 53 firetrucks, more than 100 firefighters and 50 workers in California, David Torgerson, president, told the LA Times. He said only about five percent of such companies contract with individuals.

For insurance companies, the benefits of private firefighters are obvious—it’s cheaper to send them out to save a $5 million property than it would be to replace the house and its contents.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

The stand at Rattlesnake Flats: A sudden change of wind leaves two firefighter inmates, captain facing wall of flame during #CampFire

Camp Fire: The stand at Rattlesnake Flats: A sudden change of wind leaves two firefighter inmates, captain facing wall of flame

Cal Fire report compares Paradise conflagration to WWII’s Operation Gomorrah

A Cal Fire graphic details what happened when the Camp Fire burned over a fire captain and two inmate firefighters on Nov. 8. (Cal Fire) 

PARADISE — By the early afternoon of Nov. 8, the Camp Fire had consumed Paradise and was headed southwest toward Chico and Oroville.

A hand strike team of Cal Fire firefighters and California prison inmates was sent to the front lines. They had to help protect Butte College in Oroville and the heavily populated areas nearby.

Two teams headed up Clark Road and began scouting areas to set back fires, to try and burn up fuel so the incoming fiery beast had nothing left to devour.

As they stood along Rattlesnake Flats Road — an undulating, one-lane dirt farm road flanked by barbed wire fences — the favorable winds suddenly switched directions and picked up velocity. The fire had them trapped. Two inmates and a fire captain would be seriously burned in the lightning quick event, but survive.

The harrowing story of the Cal Fire crew and their inmate colleagues had not been publicly reported until Friday when state fire investigators released a Green Report, launched after any firefighter injuries or deaths. Despite claiming at least 86 civilian lives, no firefighters died in the blaze, although five were injured. The report’s account of two close calls during the first 24 hours of the firefight is proof that the outcome could have easily been much different.

In addition to the Rattlesnake Flats incident, an exploding propane tank launched shrapnel at two firefighters protecting a home in Magalia. All but one of the firefighters were released from the hospital the same day, except the Cal Fire captain from Rattlesnake Flats, who was finally released from the hospital last week, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

Was he surprised the state’s deadliest and most destructive fire didn’t leave a bigger firefighter toll?

“Seriously, yes,” McLean said. “Six firefighter deaths this year alone. Don’t know why none on the Camp.”

The report further emphasizes the destructive weather patterns and dry vegetation that created an “urban firestorm” that gobbled up 76 acres a minute with embers igniting spot fires a mile ahead. Those small fires would become 200-acre conflagrations within minutes, investigators said.

The report compared the blaze to the firestorm that wiped out the German city of Hamburg during the height of World War II. An Allied bombing run called “Operation Gomorrah” in July 1943, boosted by dry conditions and intense winds created an “urban firestorm” that killed 42,600 civilians and wounded 37,000 more.

By 2:45 p.m. Nov. 8, the Camp fire had devastated Paradise and was feeding off vegetation and making its way out of the foothills. The two hand strike teams positioned along Rattlesnake Flats Road watched as 10- to 15-foot-high flames shot across the road, blocking both directions.

Both crews feverishly attempted to set back fires to get a small buffer from the advancing flames, but managed only about 20 feet, according to the report.

The first inmate ran toward the flames to escape, but was stopped by the fence. He suffered burns on his face and neck. A second firefighter ran the opposite direction. He leapt over the barbed wire fence but a tool on his belt caught and he fell to the ground. Flames ignited his hair, beard and mustache and left him with burns on his face and neck, the report said.

State prison officials would not confirm where the inmates were jailed but released their ages, 30 and 27. The 30-year-old was treated and released and the 27-year-old had burns over 3 percent of his body and spent more than one day in the hospital, a state prison spokesperson said.

A Cal Fire captain at the site received serious burns to his hands, arms, face and neck, and lay on the dirt road after the fire swept past. A strike team leader drove to the scene at 3 p.m. “where he observed inmate firefighters attempting to provide medical care to (the fire captain).”

He called in the emergency, but radio transmissions were so busy, no one heard his call for medical aid. By 3:30 p.m., the injured men were all removed by ambulance.

“(They were) very fortunate,” McLean said. “There were propane tanks exploding everywhere. And yes with respect to the crew (the fire) was there at a moment’s notice and they were standing in it.”

The second incident happened Nov. 9 around 5 a.m. in Magalia. Crews saw a spot fire near a house on Chestnut Circle and began protecting the home from the flames. Without warning, a 250-gallon propane tank exploded more than 200 feet away. A fire captain was hit by burning sticks, branches, pine cones, bark and molten aluminum, while a nearby firefighter was hit with embers and pieces of fence. Both received face and neck burns, the report said.

On Thursday, firefighters were honored at an appreciation dinner at The Palms, an event center in Chico.

“I am in awe of what they did to save the people of my community,” said Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, who spoke at the dinner. “They are true heroes. I am so sorry that some of them were injured.

“It’s really amazing that they got most everyone out and they got out.”


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Inciweb: U.S. Forest Service fire crews will pile and broadcast burn 273 acres around Angelus Oaks off Highway 38.

Incident Overview
U.S. Forest Service fire crews will pile and broadcast burn 273 acres around Angelus Oaks off Highway 38. The project, which will occur intermittently over the winter when conditions are safe for burning, is part of a larger effort to create defensible space between neighborhoods and wildland areas in the San Bernardino Mountains. Smoke and flame may be seen from a distance.

Tues., Dec. 18: Crews plan to treat 10 acres through pile burning on the east side of the community behind Spruce Ct. and Spruce Ave. Hikers at the San Bernardino Peak Trail trailhead may also see work being done.

Incident Information
Basic Information
Current as of 12/14/2018, 5:13:23 PM
Incident Type Prescribed Fire
Coordinates 34.153 latitude, -116.984 longitude

Planned Actions
More pile burning may occur on Tues., Dec. 18, behind Spruce Ct. and Spruce Ave.

Friday, December 14, 2018

California Public Utilities Commission Regulators Say Pacific Gas and Electric Falsified Gas Safety Records

Regulators say PG&E falsified gas safety records

The California Public Utilities Commission opened a formal investigation into Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Thursday, alleging that the utility may have violated safety standards and falsified gas records.

The investigation, announced Friday, stemmed from an internal report that allegedly found that PG&E repeatedly failed to mark its gas lines on time but claimed they did between 2012 and 2017, according to a press release.

The commission also noted that the alleged violation period came just two years after the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas explosion, which killed eight people, injured 58 and destroyed 38 homes.

If found in violation, the commission may consider imposing daily fines on the utility. PG&E was given a $1.6 billion penalty following the San Bruno blast. The commission hit PG&E with $5 million in fines in October for two major gas leaks in Northern California in 2016 and 2017.

State law requires that utilities must mark underground gas infrastructure before excavators begin digging. The commission report claimed PG&E lacked staff to complete locator work, and management allegedly pressured staff to file late tickets as completed on time. PG&E might have undercounted tens of thousands of late tickets over those five years, officials said.

“Utility falsification of safety related records is a serious violation of law and diminishes our trust in the utility’s reports on their progress,” Commission President Michael Picker said in a statement Friday. “These findings are another example of why we are investigating PG&E’s safety culture.”

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, a frequent PG&E critic, said the allegations detailed by the utilities commission Friday echo concerns he heard from contractors three years ago after a fatal accident involving the utility’s gas equipment in the Bakersfield area.

Hill, whose district includes San Bruno, said lawmakers should now seriously consider requiring more oversight of the utility’s digging and marking operations. He’s lost all confidence in PG&E’s ability to “do the job correctly,” he said.

“The sad part is that we’ve not had a period where you can look toward PG&E and say they’ve done a good job or they can be trusted,” Hill said. “There hasn’t been a period since San Bruno where we can say that, because there is always that next thing that happens.”

PG&E said that it is cooperating with the commission on the investigation.

“At PG&E, our most important responsibility is public and employee safety. We’re committed to accurate and thorough reporting and record-keeping, and we didn’t live up to that commitment in this case,” said Matt Nauman, a PG&E spokesman.

Nauman said the utility has taken actions to meet state standards.

Commission officials said that failing to mark natural gas lines on time could lead to damaged natural gas pipes and valves if contractors start excavating without knowing if there are pipes in the area.

Chronicle staff writer J.D. Morris contributed to this report.


Photo: Noah Berger / Associated Press 2010

Butte County Fire Call Logs Released: #Campfire

9-1-1 Calls Reveal Terror During CA Wildfire

Butte County officials have released 9-1-1 call logs from the onset of last month's terrifying Camp Fire, which claimed the lives of 86 people.

The Camp Fire raging in Paradise, CA, on Nov. 8, 2018.


At 6:33 a.m. on Nov. 8, a Butte County dispatcher answered what was among the first emergency calls in what would become the deadliest wildfire in California history: A “powerline transformer sparked and there is a fire,” the Magalia caller reported.

By just after 8 a.m., residents of Concow and Magalia were phoning in a panic — some of them trapped and needing rescue and others frantically alerting authorities to parents and grandparents in harm’s way, according to Butte County dispatchers’ logs.

“Her grandfather is at the location fighting off the fire but can not get out,” a dispatcher wrote of an 8:10 a.m. call regarding a man on Green Forest Lane in Concow.

A minute later, a call came from a resident on Hoffman Road: “Caller advised her house is on fire and she can not get out. Her mother is stuck and she can not move her. Call had disconnected. Dispatch tried to call back and it was a busy signal.”

Butte County officials on Thursday released the emergency call logs from the Camp Fire’s onset last month, offering a chilling glimpse into the moments when the inferno arrived at the community’s doorstep.

The logs covering the areas surrounding the community of Paradise give the first public view of the hundreds of 911 calls that came in on that morning as the massive tragedy unfolded. Some calls from Paradise were included in the logs, but the city also had its own, separate dispatch center.

The fire’s death toll stands at 86.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office attempted to dispatch as many on-foot patrols as possible to help callers flee, but the reports soon became overwhelming, said Megan McMann, community relations coordinator, Butte County Sheriff's Office.

“It was pretty chaotic,” said McMann, who witnessed the operations unfolding from the office in Oroville. “It was scary, there were just so many things going through everyone’s minds. We were scared for the people, scared for the deputies.”

Throughout the day the Sheriff’s Office rolled out various evacuation orders and warnings, issued on an opt-in system called CodeRed. But records reviewed by The Chronicle show the alerts’ results were mixed.

Of the calls made to landlines and opt-in mobile numbers, only about 60 percent (15,000 of 25,000) were delivered, either live or to an answering machine. The rest were met with busy signals, operator intercepts or the call timed out.

The county declined to issue an Amber Alert-style message, which would have reached all cell phones in the area, rather than just the numbers that had signed up.

Hundreds of calls rolled in throughout the day, amid the county’s numerous evacuation alerts. Some reported that they were trapped, and others were unable to reach a loved one in the fire’s path. A few included non-fire-related calls and calls from other parts of the county, and reports from deputies actively responding to incidents.

In Magalia, an 11-year-old child had stayed home from school, and her parents couldn’t get home to get her out. Nearby, there was a 95-year-old woman who didn’t walk. A Magalia man’s wife and children had no transportation and no way to get out. Someone on Honey Run Road in Chico was bedridden, had no way out, and needed an ambulance. Several were elderly, disabled or unreachable.

At the end of each report, the dispatcher made a brief note of the call’s outcome. Some offered brief signals of relief or even heroism. The 95-year-old woman who couldn’t walk was gone upon arrival. And the quadriplegic person who was bedridden received outside assistance.

The dispatcher did not give a disposition for the 11-year-old. No children have been identified as victims of the fire.

For others, the note struck an ominous tone. Many ended with “unable to locate.”

“Unable to reach brother,” read one regarding a man in Concow. “Disposition: Destroyed by Fire.”


___ (c)2018 the San Francisco Chronicle Visit the San Francisco Chronicle at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

InciWeb Incidents for California (Prescribed Fires) U.S. Forest Service fire crew vegetation thinning and slash pile burns

InciWeb Incidents for California: Prescribed Fires

Green Canyon Rx (Prescribed Fire)
2N10 Rx (Prescribed Fire)
Pine Cove Rx (Prescribed Fire)

Green Canyon Rx (Prescribed Fire)

Posted: 13 Dec 2018 11:25 AM PST
U.S. Forest Service fire crews will burn slash piles from 260 acres of vegetation thinning to the southeast of Sugarloaf, which sits on the southeastern end of the Big Bear Valley area. The project, which will only occur when conditions are safe for burning, is part of a larger effort to create defensible space between neighborhoods and wildland areas. Smoke and flame may be seen from a distance

2N10 Rx (Prescribed Fire)

Posted: 13 Dec 2018 11:25 AM PST
U.S. Forest Service fire crews will burn slash piles from 181 acres of vegetation thinning to the west of Moonridge, which is adjacent to Bear Mountain Ski Resort and southeast of Big Bear Village. The project, which will only occur when conditions are safe for burning, is part of a larger effort to create defensible space between neighborhoods and wildland areas. Smoke and flame may be seen from a distance

Pine Cove Rx (Prescribed Fire)

Posted: 13 Dec 2018 11:23 AM PST
U.S. Forest Service fire crews will broadcast burn 234 acres to the west of Pine Cove, which is north of Idyllwild. The project, which will occur intermittently over the winter when conditions are safe for burning, is part of a larger effort to create defensible space between neighborhoods and wildland areas in the San Jacinto Mountains. Smoke and flame may be seen from a distance

InciWeb Incidents for California
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State legislation that was just signed into law in September created an opt-out alert system

'Unprecedented' evacuations in Ventura County wildfires prompt new fix to alert system

Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun

The 911 calls came in one after another as flames reached Ventura County neighborhoods last month.

An injured, elderly man needed help to evacuate his home. A neighbor’s house was on fire, and someone could still be inside. Cars fleeing from flames were trapped by downed power lines.

Hours earlier, the Hill and Woolsey fires had broken out in Ventura County in gusty, dry conditions, barreling toward neighborhoods and prompting evacuation orders for tens of thousand of locals.

The fires broke out Nov. 8, not quite a year after the Thomas Fire exploded in another part of the county.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Division Chief John McNeil with Ventura County Fire Department of fighting those fast-moving brush fires.

“The footprint grows so quick,” he said, talking about the Night 1 on the Woolsey Fire. “Really, the biggest decisions made by the operations position at that point is the timing of when it’s going to impact the communities.”

Authorities count on alert and warning systems to help get people out of harm’s way before that happens. But those systems continue to have gaps.

A flurry of legislative fixes sought to close some over the last year, but even before those new laws take effect, more are being proposed.

On the anniversary of the Thomas Fire, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, proposed expanding legislation that was just signed into law in September.

The law created an opt-out alert system that counties could use, instead of the current opt-in ones.

This month, she proposed expanding its reach through Senate Bill 46.

“This is critically important as we have a 12-month-a-year fire season,” Jackson said Thursday. “We’ve got to be better prepared. We’ve got to warn people.”


Monday, December 3, 2018

Pacific Gas and Electric Company(PG&E) Catastrophe Bonds “Disaster Capitalism?”

Cal Phoenix Re wildfire cat bond launched at $200m for PG&E Corp.

The cat bond will ultimately provide PG&E with a three-year source of insurance protection against property damages caused by wildfires in the state of California
Credit: Sac Bee

by ARTEMIS on JULY 11, 2018
The first pure wildfire exposed catastrophe bond has come to market, as California focused electrical utility PG&E Corporation (the Pacific Gas and Electric Company) turns to the capital markets and ILS investors as a source of collateralized insurance protection with a $200 million Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) transaction.

Being a corporate beneficiary of a property catastrophe bond exposed solely to California wildfire risks you might have thought that the PG&E cat bond would feature a parametric trigger, but it doesn’t as the risk is being ceded via Energy Insurance Mutual (of which PG&E is a member) as the insured and reinsurance firm Tokio Millennium Re AG.

Because of that layering of risk transfer the new Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) catastrophe bond is an indemnity arrangement, with the sale of the notes issued by Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. set to collateralize the retrocessional reinsurance agreement with Tokio Millennium Re, which in turn provides the reinsurance protection to Energy Insurance Mutual, which then insures the PG&E Corporation risk.

It’s an interesting way to see the corporate risk of PG&E cascade through multiple layers of insurance, reinsurance and retrocession to the capital markets, allowing for an indemnity coverage arrangement to be put in place, backed by the efficiency of ILS capacity.

Bermuda special purpose insurer Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. will aim to sell a $200 million tranche of Series 2018-1 notes to investors, with the proceeds providing the capital to back the risk transfer for PG&E.

The cat bond will ultimately provide PG&E with a three-year source of insurance protection against property damages caused by wildfires in the state of California, but interestingly this appears to be third-party wildfire liability so the damage caused by wildfires for which PG&E is liable.

This seems to be a first in the catastrophe bond market, providing PG&E with a way to transfer a significant risk to its business to the capital markets.

It also appears that under loss adjustment expenses will be included certain litigation risks related to the third-party wildfire related property damages, which again appears to be a first in the cat bond marketplace.

The insured Energy Insurance Mutual Limited, actually its subsidiary Energy Insurance Services, Inc., is a provider of third-party liability insurance coverage to energy utility and related companies.

It appears that this new Cal Phoenix Re cat bond is a direct response to the recent severe California wildfire season, which had seen PG&E threatened with liability cases, according to news reports.

Cal Phoenix Re, as issuer, will issue the notes to be sold to ILS funds and ILS investors, with the proceeds backing a three-year annual aggregate and indemnity reinsurance arrangement with Tokio Millennium Re, the reinsured, although the coverage cascades back to PG&E.

The cover is for California wildfires that are caused by or due to infrastructure owned by the insured PG&E.

We’re told that the currently $200 million tranche of Series 2018-1 notes to be issued by Cal Phoenix Re will have an initial attachment point of $1.25 billion and cover a $500 million layer from there upwards, with a franchise deductible per event.

That equates to a modelled initial attachment probability of 1.35%, an initial expected loss of 1.01% and we understand that the notes are being offered to investors with coupon guidance of 6% to 6.5%.

That’s a significant multiple, which could be to ensure investors feel compensated for taking on potential unknowns with this catastrophe bond, such as the litigation risk that could be included under loss adjustment expenses.

It will be fascinating to see how this new Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. catastrophe bond is received by the ILS investor community, given the novel nature of the risk, the layered risk transfer and the potential for third-party liability to add to losses qualifying under the terms of the deal.

We’ve added the new Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) transaction to our catastrophe bond Deal Directory and will update you as information allows.

Further reading:

‘Bailout in sheep’s clothing’ for PG&E? Advocates slam California wildfire plan

Catastrophe Bonds as “Disaster Capitalism”

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Kern River Ranger District Prescribed RX - Hazardous Fuels Reduction project

Incident Overview

Kernville, Ca….November 20172018: Hazardous Fuels Reduction projects are scheduled this winter/Spring on three mountaintops within the Kern River Ranger District on the Sequoia National Forest, as well as some lower elevation burning near communities around Isabella Lake.

Fire managers work closely with the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District to manage smoke production and reduce any local impacts.

Forest Service crews prep fire lines and cut ladder fuels to prepare for burning during winter months. Prep work is necessary to ensure the project work is accomplished safely and to provide control measures.

November 29 and November 30, 2018, fire personnel are burning slash piles in Live Oak Campground North and South.

Thursday, November 29th fire personnel accomplished burning 130 slash piles in Live Oak North - Wofford Heights. Smoke may drift across roads and into the community of Wofford Heights.

Prescribed burn efforts will continue throughout the winter/spring as weather, air quality and available resources permit.

Incident Information
Prescribed burning project - burning slash piles within Live Oak Campground-North & South, Wofford Heights, Ca.

Basic Information
Current as of 11/30/2018, 11:51:31 AM
Incident Type Prescribed Fire
Date of Origin Thursday November 29th, 2018 approx. 07:00 AM
Location Wofford Heights - Live Oak Campgrounds, North and South
Incident Commander Burn Boss Matthew Ball
Incident Description Burning Slash Piles Within Live Oak Campground.
Coordinates 35.701 latitude, -118.461 longitude
Current Situation
Total Personnel 12
Size 5 Acres
Fuels Involved
Limbs, brush

Significant Events
Smoke will be visible in the Wofford Heights area - smoke may even cross a few roads - please drive slowly and keep yourselves and others, safe.

Please use caution when driving through Wofford Heights today - Prescribed burns taking place in Live Oak Campground. Prescribed burns Thursday and Friday are slash piles within the campground. Smoke will be visible in the area- drive slowly, please.

Planned projects may be postponed, at times, until conditions become favorable. Conditions can include winds, temperatures and humidity changes.

Related Links

Unit Information
Sequoia National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

Incident Contact
Bryan Hellett/Cindy Thill
Phone: 760 376-3781 ext. 625
Hours: M-F 8:00-4:30


Sunday, November 18, 2018

The mystery #CampFire ‘second start’: Was it captured on firewatch camera?

The mystery Camp Fire ‘second start’: Was it captured on firewatch camera?
CONCOW — Firefighter radio transmissions indicate that a possible “second start” of the Camp Fire was caught on a firewatch camera near Concow Reservoir, about a half-hour after the first flames were reported about five miles northeast near Poe Dam and Pulga.

Security guards associated with Cal Fire Wednesday blocked off a section of Concow Road betwen Mountain Pine Lane and Rim Road. The closure was related to Cal Fire’s investigation into the Camp Fire. (Dan Reidel — Enterprise-Record)
 At 7:04 a.m. Nov. 8, a fire dispatcher rerouted a couple of fire crews to a “possible second fire” on Rim Road, just east of Concow Reservoir. Satellite images indicate that Rim Road crisscrosses underneath several PG&E high-tension lines in that vicinity. There are no obvious radio discussions indicating what may have sparked that second fire, in a review of archived radio chatter.

Minutes later a firefighter described the initial blaze as having grown to about 300 acres with a rapid rate of spread and heading toward Concow Reservoir. Firefighters responding to the second ignition alerted other crews to “two little kids walking the road” along the lower portion of Rim Road, also called Andy Mountain Road, near Jarbo Gap on Highway 70.

On Thursday, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported that security guards had set up a roadblock the day before outside Concow. Later, Cal Fire-Butte County Chief Darren Read confirmed that investigators have identified a “possible second origin” for the fire. He did not release any additional information regarding the second origin point, saying the fire remained under investigation.

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean also declined to elaborate Friday.

“Our investigators, Cal Fire, have identified a possible second origin for the Camp Fire,” he said. “The fire remains under investigation, and no further details will be released at this time.”

No cause has been determined for the Camp Fire, according to Cal Fire. In addition to the first radio reports of a downed power line near Poe Dam where the first ignition began, PG&E reported to state regulators that minutes before the fire was reported, a transmission line had a malfunction in the area of the dam.

It’s unclear which firewatch camera possibly captured the second ignition. However in 2014, PG&E announced it funded $2 million to install 28 remote fire sensing cameras on “some of the most important lookout towers” in four counties, including Butte.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Wednesday that PG&E is cooperating with fire investigators, but it was not clear whether the utility’s transmission tower caused the fire.

The District Attorney’s Office was involved “in anticipation that if anything is referred to us in terms of a criminal case, that we’re on top of it right now,” Ramsey said.

The Camp Fire has claimed at least 71 lives and has destroyed more than 9,800 homes. It is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history.

Chico Enterprise-Record staff writers Andre Byik and Dan Reidel contributed to this report.


Firefighters Injured on Early Morning Vegetation Fire #CAfires

Firefighters Injured on Early Morning Vegetation Fire

 Corralitos - Firefighters from throughout Santa Cruz County responded to an early morning vegetation fire in the area of Eureka Canyon in Corralitos near Buzzard Lagoon Road. 
 Over 50 firefighters were able to stop the fire at less than two acres. The fire is currently 50% contained. 
 Two firefighters were injured during the firefight after being struck by a falling tree. Both firefighters were treated at scene by advanced life support paramedics and transported by ambulance to local hospitals for further treatment. 
 The cause of the fire is under investigation. Ground crews and one helicopter will remain at scene throughout the day to reinforce containment lines and patrol.

CAL FIRE San Mateo - Santa Cruz Unit
Contact: Jonathan Cox, Division Chief
(650) 861-4084
Release Date: November 18, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

747 Global Supertanker Day 6 UPDATE McClellan Load and Return on the '#Campfire

747 Global Supertanker 'Camp' fire Day 6 UPDATE McClellan Load and Return

747 Global Supertanker, McClellan Reload Base, Sacramento Ca.

Take a behind the scenes look at how these huge Supertankers are turned so quickly during the 'Camp' fire at McClellan Reload Base, Sacramento Ca. LINKS:

Twitter links

****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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