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Friday, November 9, 2018

Butte County #CampFire wildland fire becomes most destructive fire in California history, destroys town of Paradise

Camp Fire
Credit: KCRA 3

Camp Fire burns over 6,700 structures, becomes most destructive fire in California history

Evacuation Map

November 08, 2018

A wind-driven wildfire continues to threaten communities and prompt evacuations after consuming nearly the entire town of Paradise.

The Camp Fire ignited around 6:30 a.m. local time Thursday and has burned over 89,000 acres and is 5 percent contained.

As of Friday evening, 6,713 structures have been destroyed, making it the most destructive individual fire in California history. Previously, the most destructive fire was the Tubbs fire which destroyed 5,636 structures in October of 2017.

Nine fatalities have been confirmed by officials, according to the Associated Press (AP). Three firefighters have also been injured during containment efforts.

On Thursday afternoon, a state of emergency was declared in Butte County in response to the growing Camp Fire. On Friday, President Donald Trump approved California's Emergency Declaration, allowing federal assistance to be open to the state due to the wildfires.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. However, on Friday afternoon, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said that it experienced a problem with an electric line near the location where the Camp Fire started, according to the AP. It is unclear if this contributed to the start of the wildfire.

An evacuation order was issued for all of Paradise, home to over 27,000 people, where many had only minutes to flee the rapidly spreading blaze.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation," Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said via the AP. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out."

McLean said Friday morning that the blaze had nearly quadrupled in size overnight.

As the Camp Fire continues to grow, evacuation orders have expanded into the city of Chico, California, where over 93,000 people live. An evacuation warning is in effect for areas south of Highway 32 and east of Bruce Road inside the city limits, according to the Chico Police Department.

The Chico Fire Department said there have been multiple traffic collisions, vehicle fires and medical emergencies.

The California State University campus in Chico remains safe, according to a post on Twitter.

Several shelters have opened for evacuees, but many are quickly filling up, including the Nazarene Church in Oroville, California.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Critical Fire Weather: PG&E May Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety in Portions of 12 California Counties

PG&E May Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety in Portions of 12 Counties

Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced Saturday night it may turn off power in parts of 12 counties within the next 24 hours due to expected extreme fire danger conditions.

A press release from the company cites a red flag warning from the National Weather Service and other factors as reason for turning off power late Saturday night into Sunday morning.

The company said it will likely turn off power for safety reasons ahead of Sunday evening, where wind conditions are forecasted to last into Monday morning.

The counties that would be affected are:

  • Lake County (Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake Park, Cobb, Finley, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lower Lake, Middletown)
  • Napa County (Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Pope Valley, Saint Helena)
  • Sonoma County (Cloverdale, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa)
  • Yuba County (Brownsville, Camptonville, Challenge, Dobbins, Marysville, Oregon House, Strawberry Valley)
  • Butte County (Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Clipper Mills, Feather Falls, Forbestown, Oroville)
  • Sierra County (Alleghany, Downieville, Goodyears Bar, Pike City, Sierra City),
  • Placer County (Alta, Applegate, Auburn, Baxter, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Emigrant Gap, Foresthill, Gold Run, Loomis, Meadow Vista, Weimar)
  • Nevada County (Chicago Park, Grass Valley, Nevada City, North San Juan, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Soda Springs, Washington)
  • El Dorado County (Aukum, Camino, Coloma, Cool, Diamond Springs, El Dorado, Fair Play, Garden Valley, Georgetown, Greenwood, Grizzly Flats, Kelsey, Kyburz, Mount Aukum, Omo Ranch, Pacific House, Placerville, Pollock Pines, Shingle Springs, Silver Fork, Somerset, Strawberry, Twin Bridges)
  • Amador County (Fiddletown, Jackson, Pine Grove, Pioneer, Plymouth, Sutter Creek, Volcano)
  • Plumas County (La Porte)
  • Calaveras (Glencoe, Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Ranch, Rail Road Flat, West Point, Wilseyville)

We are working directly with first responders and state and local agencies to help prepare for this potential safety event. We are conducting outreach to customers in potentially affected areas and also doing special outreach to PG&E customers who are on Medical Baseline.
“The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is PG&E’s top priority. We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety, and as a last resort during extreme weather conditions. PG&E has a plan. We want our customers to have plans, too.” said Kevin Dasso, vice president of electric asset management.
When and where possible, PG&E will provide early warning notification as well as updates until power is restored. Extreme weather threats can change quickly. Out of an abundance of caution, PG&E is providing notice to customers in advance of this safety event through automated phone calls, texts, social media and emails effective immediately.

PG&E May Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety in Portions of 12 Counties

Critical Fire Weather : CAL OES Pre-positioned Fire Resources and Emergency Personnel Dispatched to North SF Bay Area

With Strong Winds and Red Flag Conditions, Cal OES Pre-Positions Critical Firefighting Resources and Personnel in North Bay Area

In preparation for dangerous fire weather conditions, including high winds, anticipated to impact Northern California Counties, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has strategically pre-positioned critical fire response resources to include strike teams of fire engines, firefighters, water tenders and emergency dispatchers in the designated impacted areas.

These resources and personnel are staffing up into position as early as this evening and into tomorrow. The pre-positioned fire resources and emergency personnel include:

  • Sonoma County Operational Area – one Type-3 engine strike team, one water tender, one emergency dispatcher
  • Marin County Operational Area – one task force of Type-3 fire engines and one water tender, one additional water tender, one emergency dispatcher
  • Solano County Operational Area – one Type-3 engine strike team
  • Alameda County Operational Area – one Type-3 engine strike team, one water tender, one emergency dispatcher
  • Contra Costa Operational Area – one task force of Type-3 fire engines and one water tender, one emergency dispatcher
  • Napa County Operational Area – one Type-3 engine strike team, one emergency dispatcher
  • Santa Clara County Operational Area – one Type-3 engine strike team
  • Lake County Operational Area – one task force of Type-3 engines, a water tender and a leader, one additional water tender

All pre-positioned resources are expected to remain in place until fire weather conditions improve in the region. Additional resources could be staffed up as well, depending on the weather conditions across the state.

A strike team includes five fire engines with 15 firefighters and a strike team leader. A task force is five fire resources of different types/vehicles, such as four fire engines and one water tender make up a single task force.

The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually low relative humidity and winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour, creating Red Flag weather conditions over parts of Northern California through Monday.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire potential and erratic fire behavior.

Click here to see the National Weather Service’s Red Flag warnings.

The public is urged is remain aware of their surrounding conditions and to avoid outdoor activities that can cause a spark near dry vegetation, such as yard work, target shooting, or campfires and follow local fire restrictions. Also, remember to have an emergency plan in place, emergency preparedness kits at home and vehicles full of fuel; sign-up for emergency alerts; listen to authorities and warnings and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

The Cal OES Warning Center and State Operations Center will monitor conditions and be ready for further resource requests as necessary throughout the Red Flag period.

For more from Cal OES, visit and follow us on Twitter @Cal_OES.For more information on Cal OES Fire Regions, click here.
Original article CAL OES

Friday, September 14, 2018

Green Sheet: Firefighter's death and three injuries in Mendocino Complex Fire caused by retardant drop from 747

Firefighter's death in Mendocino Complex Fire caused by retardant drop from 747, report finds

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. -- A firefighter battling the largest wildfire in California history was killed last month when thousands of gallons of flame-suppressing liquid were dropped from a Boeing 747 mistakenly flying only 100 feet above the treetops, according to an official report Friday.

The pilot and a supervisor flying ahead in a small guide plane led the giant modified jetliner nearly into the trees on Aug. 13 because the pilots failed to recognize that there was a hill in the flight path, according to the Green Sheet report by the state's firefighting agency.

Because of the near ground-level release, the retardant struck with such force it uprooted an 87-foot tree that fell on Matthew Burchett, a 42-year-old battalion chief from Utah helping with the Mendocino Complex Fire north of San Francisco.

Another large tree was snapped by the force of nearly 20,000 gallons of liquid and three firefighters were injured, one seriously.

The guide pilot "made a 'show me' run" for the 747 pilot over the intended path for the retardant drop, and marked the path for the jet with a smoke trail, according to the report.

"Obscured by heavy vegetation and unknown to the (747) pilot, a rise in elevation occurred along the flight path." The ground sloped up about 170 feet so quickly that the 747 cleared the hilltop in just two seconds, according to the report.

The guide planes have two people aboard, a pilot and an "air tactical supervisor." California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler could not immediately say if either would face investigation or discipline for not identifying the hill.

The retardant drops were intended to help secure a fire break cut through the trees by a bulldozer to stop advancing flames. Burchett and the other three firefighters were working on the hill next to the firebreak when the drop was announced over a radio and firefighters were told to "Clear the area out."

The four did not respond to the warning, though the report says that "when personnel are working under a tree canopy, supervisors must ensure the drop path is cleared."

It is not uncommon to have firefighters under retardant drops, Mohler said, though he could not say if the four firefighters knew they were in the flight path or why they didn't acknowledge or act on the radioed warning.

"We have ground troops under aircraft, it's not unusual at all. It's part of what we teach," he said.

A firefighter who can't move out of the way is trained to lie spread-eagled, face down, toward the oncoming aircraft, one hand holding the top of the helmet as it takes the brunt of the impact from the falling slurry and air turbulence that can threaten to lift a firefighter off the ground.

Burchett, a suburban Salt Lake City firefighter, was crushed by the uprooted tree, while the others were struck by falling tree debris. Two had deep muscle contusions and ligament damage. One also suffered broken ribs, while the fourth firefighter had scratches and abrasions.

The report warns that some firefighters have used their cellphones to record retardant drops, which can be distracting and harm their ability to recognize the danger and take evasive action. But it does not say if any of the four injured firefighters was taking video at the time.

Original Article:

Monday, September 10, 2018

CAL FIRE SCU San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit Bans All Burning #BurnBan

CAL FIRE San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit Bans All Burning

Felton – As of Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit has banned all outdoor burning.

This is due to the extreme menace of destruction by fire to life, improved property and natural resources caused by critical fire weather, acute dryness of vegetation and fire suppression forces being heavily committed to control fires within Northern California.

This ban affects all state responsibility area lands within the counties of San Mateo and Santa Cruz and all CAL FIRE contract areas within same counties.
All campfire s, open pit fires , open pit cooking fires, warming fires and ceremonial burns are prohibited.
The only exception would be a fire with all of the following protection measures:
  •  Completely contained in a metal or ceramic fire pit no larger than 18” wide and 12” deep,
  •  Completely covered by a ¼” or smaller mesh screen
  •  10’ of bare mineral soil clearance around the pit
  •  No flames taller than 12”.
  •  In a designated campfire area with written permission of the landowner
  •  Under the direct supervision of an adult having appropriate fire suppression tools including water.

Keep in mind, now is the time to start planning your defensible space around your home for next year’s fire season. This will allow adequate time to obtain the tools and other resources needed to adequately prepare your property during the wet season.

For more information visit: or
Be Fire Safe!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Snell Fire: Butts Canyon 400 acres with the potential to grow to 5,000 acres.

#SnellFire Update 09:00 9/9/18 - Butts Canyon Rd and Snell Valley Rd, 7 miles SE of Middletown (Napa County) is now 1,900 acres and 10% contained.

#SnellFire Update 20:00 9/8/18 - Butts Canyon Rd and Snell Valley Rd, 7 miles SE of Middletown (Napa County) is now 1,700 acres and 10% contained.

Fast-growing fire threatening Berryessa Estates in Napa County

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – A wildland fire first reported on Saturday afternoon has begun to spread rapidly and has led to a call for evacuations in and around Berryessa Estates in Napa County.

The Snell fire was first reported shortly after 2:30 p.m. by a resident in the Jerusalem Valley area near Middletown, according to radio reports.

Cal Fire said the blaze is located in the area of Butts Canyon and Snell Valley roads, seven miles southeast of Middletown.

Firefighters accessed the fire off of Butts Canyon Road at Snell Valley Ranch, finding it to be about 10 acres and pushed by a west wind when they first arrived shortly after 2:45 p.m.

Within a half hour, the fire was up to between 20 and 30 acres, with a fast to dangerous rate of spread and more air resource requested.

Several tankers as well as Cal Fire’s Copter 101 and Copter 104 were working the fire according to .

Just after 3:30 p.m. incident command estimated the fire was up to 35 acres and was located three-quarters of a mile northwest of the Berryessa Estates, a subdivision of close to 200 homes on Putah Creek north of Lake Berryessa in Napa County.

Less than 15 minutes later, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office issued a Nixle alert for a mandatory evacuation of Snell Valley Road, all roads to Snell Valley and Berryessa Estates.

At 3:50 p.m., the fire was reported to be 200 acres, with spotting ahead of the main fire, according to reports from incident command.

At that point incident command requested 10 four-wheel-drive engines to access the fire and 10 other engines to protect structures in Berryessa Estates.

At 4:20 p.m., incident command reported the fire was holding at 250 acres.

By 5 p.m., incident command reported that the fire was up to 400 acres, it had spotted across Putah Creek and was moving away from Berryessa Estates, with the potential to grow to 5,000 acres.

At 5:15 p.m., the Napa County Sheriff’s Office issued an additional evacuation order, this time for the west side of Berryessa Knoxville Road from the Pope Creek bridge to the county line.

Temporary flight restrictions have been put in effect in the fire area, according to radio reports.

Authorities said Snell Valley Road has been closed to inbound traffic, with one-way traffic outbound only.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office said an evacuation center for residents of Snell Valley Road and Berryessa Estates has been set up at the Pope Valley Farm Center, 5800 Pope Valley Road.

Original Article:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott asked lawmakers for another $234 million to keep the agency’s firefighting budget from being exhausted.

Cal Fire makes earliest request ever for more firefighting dollars in record year

 As fires continued to rage in the state, Cal Fire on Thursday asked lawmakers for another $234 million to keep the agency’s firefighting budget from being exhausted.

Such requests are typical for Cal Fire, but Thursday’s request by Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott marked the earliest the agency has ever asked for additional funding, said spokesman Mike Mohler.

Barely two months into the new fiscal year, Cal Fire has already spent $431 million fighting fires, he said, out of a total budget of $443 million. Another $234 million would increase the budget by about 50 percent.

Although the legislative session ended last Friday, H.D. Palmer of the Department of Finance said emergency funds can be transferred quickly to Cal Fire with approval from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

“Firefighting will not stop,” Mohler said.

Mohler said the agency isn’t out of money, but is seeking the additional funding because “we’re planning ahead....We’re seeing a record fire season, obviously.”

Also Thursday, the state announced that the two biggest fires this summer caused at least $845 million in property damage.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who released the figures, said the costs are likely to climb “as insurance companies process claims and more claims are filed.”

The figures reflect the property damage from the Carr Fire, which destroyed entire neighborhoods in western Redding, and the Mendocino Complex Fire in Mendocino and Lake counties.

The Mendocino Complex, which is 98 percent contained, is the largest fire in the state’s history in sheer size, at 459,123 acres. The Carr Fire, which chewed through 229,651 acres, is the seventh-largest California wildfire.

The bulk of the property damage occurred in the Carr Fire, where losses total $788 million.

Jones released the data as another dangerous fire flared up in Northern California. The Delta Fire in Shasta County was at 15,294 acres Thursday and caused the shutdown of a long stretch of I-5 north of Redding. The commissioner noted that California’s fire season traditionally peaks in September and October.

“The worst may well yet be to come, based on past history,” Jones said at a press conference in San Francisco. “The next couple of months, we could see additional fires with catastrophic losses.”

Original article:

Friday, August 31, 2018

FOIA: "BBQ Becky's" viral 911 call made public OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU)


KTVU has obtained the 911 audio from an incident at Lake Merritt that erupted into a national controversy involving a white woman -- since nicknamed “BBQ Becky” -- calling police on a black family using a charcoal grill.

KTVU 2 Investigates obtained the two phone calls through a California Public Records Act request that was initially denied by Oakland Police.

In the first phone call, the woman who identifies herself as Jennifer Schulte tells the dispatcher,
“I’d like to report that someone is illegally using a charcoal grill in a non-designated area in Lake Merritt Park near Cleveland Cascade. I’d like it dealt with immediately so that coals don’t burn more children and we have to pay more taxes.”

The dispatcher asks for a description of the person Schulte is calling about, and whether she wants the police to make contact with her when they arrive. She says yes. The call lasts less than two minutes.

However, the follow up 911 call placed by Schulte about two hours later takes a much different tone. Michelle Snider, the woman who took the original cell phone video of the incident that went viral, can be heard in the background.

The dispatcher – who is not the same one who answered the original call – seems confused about the situation and asks Schulte, “Who’s yelling in the background? Why is the person yelling? To panic over a barbecue? I don’t understand.”

Schulte responds “I don’t know” and dispatcher further asks if she can walk away from the situation, but she replies that Snider is following her.

The voice of Snider and other unidentified people in the background can be heard through much of the call, but their exact words are not always clear.

About a third of the way through the second 911 call, the dispatcher asks for Schulte’s name but she is reluctant to provide it or a description of herself when asked. Eventually she tells the dispatcher she is wearing a dark navy blue sweatshirt and jeans, and that she has shoulder-length brown hair. When the dispatcher asks for her race and age she says, “My race doesn’t matter.”

The dispatcher responds, “It does matter. How are we going to find you? Just any lady? Are you black or are you white?”

Schulte: “It doesn’t matter.. I want the police to come I’ve been waiting two hours for them.”

Dispatcher: “How are they going to find you?”

Schulte: “They usually call your cell phone when they’re here.”

Dispatcher: “I’m talking to you right now. Have you ever been to John George?”

Schulte: “What’s John George?”

Dispatcher: “It’s a mental facility.”

Schulte: “No!”

Dispatcher: “Ok, then. Please answer my question. They’re coming to you right now.”

Schulte continues to refuse to answer and the dispatcher tells her she’s going to hang up, before Schulte finally provides the information. When asked if the people she is reporting have a gun or a knife, she tells the dispatcher she doesn't know.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mutual Aid From American Samoa, Hard-pressed firefighters in the West are getting reinforcements from some unlikely places #CAfire

Singing Samoan firefighters lift spirits in fight against California wildfires

Hard-pressed firefighters in the West are getting reinforcements from some unlikely places


Anthony Wyberski
 One unique crew traveled thousands of miles across the Pacific from American Samoa, a tropical U.S. territory about 2,500 miles south of Hawaii. As CBS News' Mireya Villarreal reports, their most powerful tool may not be a shovel or chainsaw, but the harmonic sound of their voices.

The National Park Service's Samoa 61 Fire Crew is comprised of 17 guys from a "little dot on the equator," as Anthony Wyberski, one of the team's vets, describes it. For the past five summers, he's made the almost 5,000-mile journey north along with a group he calls his brothers.

"We try and bring back our culture, our fa'a Samoa," he said. "We try and stay positive. What a lot of people tell us is that they've never seen a fire team so positive."

That positivity comes through music. Without warning, they break into song just about everywhere, from the mess tent to the dusty old school bus they ride into the fire zone each morning. Each day ends back at camp with the same inspirational anthem.

"It's a church song and it's just something that's part of our culture. Our belief in God is very strong," Wyberski said.

The team can earn almost half a year's salary during a month on the fire lines. But with all the grueling, back-breaking work, that's not the main reason they do it.

"They feel like they're helping America… They feel like they're part of this country right now," said Nate Gogna, who coordinates the movement of federal fire crews like the Samoans. "And these guys have so much energy that people just want to be part of it."

In a region that's suffered so much loss, that infectious energy is a welcome import from a spiritual culture on the other side of the world.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Original Article -

Friday, August 24, 2018

Verizon: No internet speed restrictions for West Coast first responders

Verizon: No internet speed restrictions for West Coast first responders

Informational hearing scheduled Friday at state Capitol

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A nationwide telecommunications company that slowed internet service to firefighters as they battled the largest wildfire in California history says it has removed all speed cap restrictions for first responders on the West Coast.

Verizon Senior Vice President Mike Maiorana says the service restrictions were removed as of Thursday and include Hawaii, where emergency crews have rescued people from areas flooded by Hurricane Lane.

"In supporting first responders in the Mendocino fire, we didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence when our process failed some first responders on the line, battling a massive California wildfire," Maiorana said. "For that, we are truly sorry. And we’re making every effort to ensure that it never happens again."

Maiorana says that from now on Verizon will lift restrictions and provide full network access to first responders during disasters.

"We’ve been working closely with mission critical first responders to refine our service plan to better meet their unique needs," Maiorana said. "As a result, we’re introducing a new plan that will feature unlimited data, with no caps on mobile solutions and automatically includes priority access. We’ll provide full details when we introduce the plan next week, and we will make it easy to upgrade service at no additional cost."

The Santa Clara County Fire Department says in a lawsuit that Verizon slowed its internet communications at a Northern California wildfire command center three weeks ago.

California lawmakers are holding an informational hearing Friday at the state Capitol to discuss what happened.


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****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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