Twitter Buttons

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cal EMA News Blog

Cal EMA News Blog


Media Coverage: Cal EMA Video Documents March 2011 Storm Damage

Posted: 28 Jul 2011 11:13 AM PDT

CBS 5 San Francisco reports on Cal EMA’s video documenting damage done to Santa Cruz County and the City of Capitola during the severe storms of March 2011. Showcasing damage done and the community’s struggle to rebuild, the video was created in response to FEMA’s denial of California’s request for federal assistance to aid in storm recovery efforts in hopes that FEMA may reconsider.


Alert: Fire Fighter LODD Grave Theft-Can You Help? via The Secret List

Hey,
Maybe you can help. Maybe you'll see it on the Internet for sale or something like that-so we figured we would "Secret List" this because the family of a young firefighter killed 12 years ago in the line of duty is asking for help in finding clues to the defacement of his grave, including the prying off of a brass plaque on his headstone.

California FF Matt Black was just weeks short of his 21st birthday - and five days shy of his first year as a Volunteer Firefighter with Lakeport (California) Fire, when he was tragically electrocuted and killed in the Line of Duty by a downed 12,000 power line while fighting a fire on June 23, 1999.

FF Black's mother, Jo Ann Gettman and her husband, Gerry, have regularly visited her son's grave at Hartley Cemetery outside of Lakeport, often going there on special occasions and his birthday. During a recent visit they discovered that his headstone had been defaced and several items removed that had been left at the grave by family and friends. When he died, FF Black's family had an 8-inch by 10-inch brass plaque engraved with "The Fireman's Prayer" added to his flat granite headstone, along with a picture of him under glass. They also placed there a brass spittoon that he had kept in his room since childhood, along with a small hula girl and other memorabilia, Mrs Gettman said, and they went out on July 4 for one of their regular visits, and everything was fine.

She said they noticed the brass plaque needed cleaning, and decided to come back and do that on July 18, what would have been Black's 33rd birthday. But when they got out to the site, the plaque was gone, she said. "We were just shocked," she said, explaining, "Somebody had to work to get it off."

She and her husband spoke to the cemetery's groundskeeper, who hadn't noticed any issues with the grave or seen any suspicious activity. After the couple got home and began thinking about the site more, they realized the spittoon, the cowboy boots, hula girl, wooden rose, baseball cap and Cal Fire card all were gone as well. Jo Ann Gettman said they met at the cemetery with sheriff's Deputy Carla Hockett to make a report on the thefts. Gettman said vandalizing a grave hurts all the people who love the person buried there, adding it's been devastating to her, her husband, her other son - a Santa Rose firefighter - and Black's friends.

If anyone has information on this dishonor and perhaps see's anything related that's being sold, E-bayed, Craigslisted etc please contact Jo Ann Gettman at 707-263-3956 or gett17jo@mchsi.com .



 About Matthew
Matt was born at home on Ruby Drive in Lakeport on July 18, 1978. He was a graduate of Clear Lake High School, Class of 1997. During his years at Clear Lake High School, he was a member both of the Sheriff's Department Explorers and the Lakeport Fire Department Explorers. For a while during his senior year, he was torn between becoming a policeman or a fireman. When he was 8 he wanted to follow in his big brother's footsteps, Mike Jones, and become a fireman. Mike is a Captain with the Santa Rosa Fire Department. He idolized his big brother and wanted to be just like him. He became a volunteer fireman at Lakeport in 1998. After high school he took classes at Mendicino College and had decided to attend the Fire Academy in the fall of 1999. His dream to become a real career fireman (he was a volunteer) was never fulfilled, as his life was cut short on the 23rd of June in 1999 – just a few days before his 21st birthday. He died doing what he wanted to do.
He loved sports and played a lot of them. He played soccer, football, basketball, wrestling and ice hockey. He played hockey for the Belmont Rangers and played in the National Championships in 1994. He was passionate about car racing and water sports – he loved his jet ski and boating. He enjoyed western music and dancing. He had a Russian Blue cat named Eishia that he got for his 10th birthday, and a Queensland Blue Heeler dog that he bought during his last year in high school. We kept both of his pets until they passed away in 2005.
Matt was a wonderful son; we were very proud of him. Matt was a very loveable, funny, loving person. He could make everyone laugh. He was even voted class clown in his senior year. He was warm and sensitive, and very easy to get to know. He always had a lot of friends. He is missed very much by his family and friends.

Matt died in the line of duty with the Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department on June 23, 1999 – just  a few days short of his 21st birthday, which he planned to spend in Hawaii with some of his best friends since early childhood.
My husband and I have devoted ourselves to working for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Matthew's honor. It is a non-profit national organization that has helped us and so many others cope with a line-of-duty death.
There is a Scholarship Fund at the Lakeport Fire Department in Matt's memory. It is given each year to a student from Clear Lake High School who wants to have a career in Public Service.

More about Matt HERE: http://nfff.fullthrottlesupport.com/fs-Matthew.html
Story source: Secret List - www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CAL FIRE NEWS: Ex-Cal Fire captain pleads guilty to misusing public funds

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Sept. 7 sentencing date is set for a former Cal Fire captain who pleaded guilty to making more than $7,000 worth of inappropriate purchases on fuel and credit cards belonging to the fire agency.

Scott Mackellar, who worked in Pine Valley, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of fraudulent appropriation by a public officer of public funds.

A Cal Fire investigation uncovered Mackellar's misappropriations. Co-workers noticed questionable purchases being made by the defendant and notified their supervisors, according to Cal Fire officials.
After a month-long internal investigation, the case was forwarded to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Mackellar, who was employed with Cal Fire for three years and five months and before that by the Pine Valley Fire Protection District, resigned May 16 following the Cal Fire internal investigation.

Source Article: Link

USFA: Hydration before dehydration is key - Piss Clear, Watch Out for others

USFA Chief's Corner

Firefighter Safety in Extreme Heat

 With this summer's extreme heat in most of the country, and many areas experiencing triple digit temperatures, it is essential that you - and all of the fire service working in it - take care.  Hydration before dehydration is key: do not allow yourself or those responding with you to place yourself at risk for heat related illness.  Also, keep a lookout for your fellow firefighters.
Another critical function that needs to be established in this heat wave is emergency incident rehabilitation.  Emergency incident rehabilitation is designed to ensure that the physical and mental well-being of firefighters and other emergency responders operating at the scene of an emergency does not deteriorate to the point where it affects their safety.  It can prevent serious and life-threatening conditions such as heat stroke and heart attacks from occurring.  Rehabilitation is not just for incidents, it is also a must for operational training.
Fire departments should be in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1584 Standard on the Rehabilitation of Members Operating at Incident Scene Operations and Training Exercises.
USFA has resources to assist you and your department in establishing an effective emergency incident rehabilitation program, including a comprehensive guide on Emergency Incident Rehabilitation (PDF, 5.6 Mb) which was developed through a partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).  Additionally, the USFA website provides comprehensive information on this topic.
Please take some time to review these resources.  USFA remains committed to the health and safety of firefighters, operating in any weather.
Follow USFA updates on Twitter
Article by the U.S. Fire Administration.  

LAcoFD/LACPWD: 62 car train derailment - HazMat Investigation - Street Closure List

Updated: A freight train has derailed in Littlerock in the Antelope Valley. 21 of the 62 cars overturned. Six of the cars were carrying hazardous materials, but authorities say there is no leak.
Two passengers were on the train, but there are no reports of injuries.

Haz-Mat Info: Authorities initially said there was no leak, but after a fire department helicopter spotted a possible chlorine leak, crews were advised not to enter the derailment area. Evacuations: LA County Fire has ordered a 2000 foot evacuation along the segment of railroad track where the incident took place.
Some homes near the site were evacuated. Levesque says the area is sparsely populated.
List of County Roads closed following Train Derailment
 
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has closed a number of roads in the vicinity of Littlerock, an unincorporated area of LA County near Palmdale, following a freight train derailment earlier today. The roads were closed at the request of the California Highway Patrol and LA County Sheriff's Department and currently affect a two-mile area between 87th Street to 106th Street East. Public Works personnel have joined other first responders at the Incident Command Post and continue to monitor the situation.

The full list of road closures is provided below. The list is also available on the Department's website at www.dpw.lacounty.gov by clicking on the orange Road Closures icon. The list will be updated throughout the evening if additional closures are ordered.

87th Street East from Avenue T to Avenue S
Avenue S - 87th Street / 106th Street East
92nd Street East - Avenue T / Avenue S
Avenue S 02 - Little Rock Ranchos Road / 106th Street East
Avenue S 04 - Little Rock Ranchos Road / 106th Street East
Avenue S 06 - 96th Street East / 106th Street East
94th Street East - Avenue S-8 / 402 N/O Avenue S-02
Avenue S 08 - 0180 W. 94th Street East / 106th Street East
95th Street East - Avenue S-8 / 402 N/O Avenue S-02
Avenue S 10 - 96th Street East / 106th Street East
98th Street East - Avenue T / Avenue S
Avenue S 12 - 96th Street East / 106th Street East
Avenue S 14 - 96th Street East / 106th Street East
103rd Street East - Avenue T / Avenue S    
106th Street East - Avenue T / Avenue S
Little Rock Ranchos Road - 94th Street East / 0648 N. Avenue S-02
93rd Street East - Avenue S-2 / 399 N/O Avenue S-02
87th Street East from Avenue T to Avenue S
 
Union Pacific spokesperson Aaron Hunt released a statement Wednesday afternoon:

"A little after 1:00 p.m. today a 68-car Union Pacific train was headed southbound from Roseville to West Colton through the Littlerock area east of Palmdale. 21 rail cars on that train derailed. The cause of the derailment is under investigation. No injuries have been reported. Six of the 21 derailed cars are tank cars that typically carry hazardous materials. No spills have been reported from the six tank cars. Currently, the Union Pacific hazmat response team is working in collaboration with LA County Fire to determine if there are any leaks from any of those six tank cars. Though the six tank cars are currently empty, a thorough damage assessment will be made of each tank car before they are re-railed. LA County Fire has ordered a 2000 foot evacuation along the segment of railroad track where the incident took place."


For further information, contact the Los Angeles County Fire Department at (323) 881-2411, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department at (661) 272-0650, or the American Red Cross at (661) 267-0650.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CA-SQF-Lion - #Wildland Fire - 14,020 acres, 5%

 Update 7-27: Lion fire grew approximately 2,863 acres. Of those acres, approximately 1,200 acres were aerial ignited. The aerial ignition prevented any large uphill runs. The main fire burned into the areas that had been ignited by aerial ignition.  Update: 7-26: A public meeting is planned for today, Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 pm in Kernville at the Odd Fellows Hall at 50 Tobias Street.
Area Closure in Sequoia National Park for Lion Wildfire
Fire Likely to Enter the Park
With the Lion Fire spreading towards Sequoia National Park, and to provide for public and firefighter safety, the park is implementing an area closure southeast of Windy Ridge near Farewell Gap.
The fire perimeter will likely extend into the park below Windy Ridge. This area provides a safer and easier holding line for firefighters than the winding boundary between the park and the forest.
"Wildfire functions outside of the man-made boundaries we have in place," said Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Park Superintendent. "We need to work with our neighbors to help them provide a safe response to the Lion Fire."
While the closure within the park is limited, it does restrict some very popular loop hikes that extend into the forest lands. An area closure is already in place in a segment of the Golden Trout Wilderness on Sequoia National Forest. Visitors will find a more specific map of trail closures in the park and in the Golden Trout Wilderness of the forest on Inciweb: http://inciweb.org/incident/2400/ .
Anyone planning to travel into the Forest's Wilderness is asked to contact the Western Divide Ranger District at 559-539-2607 to obtain your permit for overnight stay in areas outside the closure area. Those planning wilderness travel in the southern area of Sequoia National Park should call the 559-565-3766.
The Quinn Patrol Cabin, located in the park near Quinn Peak, was constructed by the US Cavalry in 1890 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Fire crews are working near the cabin to ensure this special historic landmark is protected during the fire. Currently, they are creating defensible space around the cabin and clearing the area of significant fuel accumulation. Strategic burn-out operations are underway near the cabin to remove fuels in front of the main fire.
Fire information lines are established at Kernville #760-379-5646 ext. 515, or Springville #559-539-2607 ext. 214 or visit http://inciweb.org/incident/2400/ .
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lion Wildland Fire was ignited by lightning on July 8 and is located in the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Sequoia National Forest. The Lion Fire, presently at 11,411 acres, is expected to grow this week as firefighters continue to focus on securing the perimeter and containing the fire. Managing the fire safely has been a chief priority for forest and park officials. "We appreciate the patience of visitors, residents, and gateway communities during this incident and its associated smoke event," said Priscilla Summers, District Ranger on the Sequoia National Forest.

Fire Behavior: The fire crossed Soda Spring Creek and showed significant growth yesterday. The aerial ignitions underway are planned to help moderate the fire intensity in this area.

On the west, structure protection of the Peck's Cabins, a private in-holding surrounded by Golden Trout Wilderness, was initiated using burning operations around the cabins. Additionally, aerial ignitions began to encourage moderate fire spread near the cabins that allows safe firefighter response.

To the north, protection of the Quinn Patrol Cabin within Sequoia National Park is underway, with strategic burning operations to remove fuels in front of the main fire. On the south and east side, firefighters are working aggressively to hold the fire from spreading across Lion Creek. Other parts of the perimeter are being contained by rocky ridges or past wildfires.

Smoke/Air Quality: As active fire containment operations continue and the fire grows in the next few days, smoke should be expected in the Kern River Valley, eastern Sierra towns, and the mountain communities of Tulare County. "We are working with our air districts to best address air quality issues while still responding to this fire," said Priscilla Summers.


Closures/Evacuations: An area closure is in effect for parts of the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. Fire information and a closure map can be found on Inciweb: http://inciweb.org/incident/2400/. Anyone planning to travel into the Forest's Wilderness is asked to contact the Western Divide Ranger District at 559-539-2607 to obtain your permit for overnight stay in areas outside the closure area. For those planning wilderness travel in the southern area of Sequoia National Park should call the 559-565-3766.
Lion Fire Trail Closure Map
CA-SQF-Lion Fire Perimeter Map

Basic Information
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Friday July 08th, 2011 approx. 01:00 PM
Location Sequoia National Forest - Golden Trout Wilderness
Incident Commander Paul Gibbs
Current Situation
Total Personnel 160
Size 11,411 acres
Percent Contained 5%
Fuels Involved: Open Jeffrey Pine litter, montane chaparral intermixed with rocky outcrops. At higher elevations, the fire is burning in red fir.
Fire Behavior: Ignitions, at higher elevations, are being used to promote a backing fire in an area that has not seen fire in 90 years. This moderates fire intensity and fuel consumption, and reduces smoke production in this steep, rugged and remote area.
Significant Events: Firefighters continue to focus on securing the perimeter and containing the fire. On July 25 the fire crossed Soda Spring Creek and showed significant growth.
Outlook
Planned Actions: Firefighters continue work to protect private property and cabins near the fire, including creating better defensible space around cabins, placing hose and firelines near these structures, and completing small burnout operations to develop a perimeter around these areas.
Growth Potential: Forest officials estimate the fire will be contained at approximately 22,000 acres. However, places within this perimeter such as rocky ridges and wet meadows will not burn. Fire behavior remains favorable with the fire remaining on the forest floor and consuming dead and downed fuels.
Terrain Difficulty: High
Remarks: Fire officials continue to work closely with the air districts regarding smoke impacts to Kernville and along Highway 395.
Current Weather:
Temperature 80 degrees
Humidity 28%
Fire Information: Fire information lines are established at Kernville #760-379-5646 ext. 515, or Springville #559-539-2607 ext. 214.

Never Forget 1978: Three Six Rivers NF engine crewmembers killed in collision

On July 26, 1978, Six Rivers NF engine crewmembers Richard Montano, Gayle Tsutsumi, and David Perrine were killed, and Mark Evans and Gene Schmoker injured when their engine collided with a logging truck south of Orleans, California. The Orleans engine was responding to fires in Weitchpec when the accident occurred.

Incident Name:  Weitchpec Dump fires
Date:  July 26, 1978
Personnel:  3 lives lost, 2 injured critically
Age:
Agency/Organization:  US Forest Service
Position: wildland firefighters

Summary:
Loves lost:
Richard A. Montano, age 22 of Santa Ana
Gayle Tsutsumi, age 26 of Redondo Beach and Arcata
David Perrine, 27 of Hamburg NY
Also injured:
Mark P. Evans, age 22 of Moraga CA
Gene Schmoker, age 26 of Orleans (crew foreman)

On Wednesday July 26, 1978 at about 1345 hours, a Forest Service "Tanker Truck" (now called an "Engine") was responding at the request of CDF to arson fires at the Weitchpec dump. It's believed that the tanker rounded a curve, crossed the center line and clipped the rear wheels of an empty logging truck. The FS tanker went over the road bank and came to rest 250 feet below along the edge of the Klamath River. One firefighter was dead at the scene, two were transported by helicopters to Mad River Hospital in Arcata and pronounced dead on arrival. Two others were critically injured. The logging truck was flipped on its side but stayed on the highway; its 2 passengers were treated and released from the hospital.

For more information, visit http://www.wlfalwaysremember.org/incident-lists/235-orleans-tanker.html

CA-MVU-Eagle Fire Update: 13,900 acres, 55% contained, 12 injuries

Eagle Fire, CA-MVU-008019 
Update 7-27: 13,900 acres, 55% contained, 12 injuries
Update 7-26: 12,800 acres, nearly 20-square-miles 45% contained. 2,133 firefighters on the lines, extremely rugged terrain hampers firefighting efforts.
The fire is still visible from the desert community of Borrego Springs, Fire continues to travel North/Northwest through older heavy brush with no documented fire history. Additionally, East through light grass and scattered brush. Six firefighters have reported minor injuries, mostly heat exhaustion.
Eagle Wildfire Perimeter Map

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE San Diego Unit
County: San Diego County
Location: Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Warner Springs
Acres Burned: 12,800 acres
Containment 12,800 acres - 45% contained
Structures Destroyed: 1 outbuilding
Evacuations: Two cabins near the fire area were evacuated.
Injuries: 6
Cause: Under Investigation
Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, San Diego County Fire Authority, US Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, California Department of Parks & Recreation, Cal EMA, San Diego Gas & Electric, California Conservation Corps, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Air National Guard.
Total Fire Personnel: 2,112
Engines: 71
Fire crews: 83
Airtankers: 6
Helicopters: 22
Dozers: 17
Water tenders: 30
Costs to date: $6.5 million
Major Incident Command Team: CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #10

Conditions: The fire is burning in a mix of grass, brush, oak and pine trees in steep, rugged terrain on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The fire continues to burn toward to the east and the northwest. Firefighters continue to take advantage of increased humidity and are making progress. The Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and Trail remain closed, along with the Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp
Air National Guard aircraft will assist with fire suppression and transportation of hand crews.
Phone Numbers (619) 590-3160 (Eagle Fire Information)

SCANNER LINKS (Radioreference.com):
San Diego County RCS North Fire, CAL FIRE Monte Vista Ranger Unit (MVU) Live Audio Feed
Cal Fire Riverside (with incident traffic)
WEB CAMS:
All HPWREN Cams
HPWREN
HPWREN
Mt Laguna Cam
WX:
Spot Weather for Eagle

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cal EMA News Blog

Cal EMA News Blog


What Happened? The Inside Story of California’s Spring Storm Disaster

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 09:29 AM PDT

*The following news release and video were issued by Cal EMA on Monday, July 25, 2011.*

~Cal EMA debuts documentary with dramatic footage of the impacts and reaction from those struggling to recover~

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) has just released a compelling 9-minute public education documentary that tells the story of this year’s third major disaster the state has suffered in as many months. The video, now available online, shows how a haunting low pressure system parked itself over the Pacific Ocean last March pushing relentless bursts of heavy rains, paralyzing snow and high winds throughout the state over a 12-day period. When it was all over, the state calculated more than $50 million in damages that left dozens of major roads impassable, the town of Capitola flooded and Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. forced to declare a state of emergency for 17 counties.

“It’s difficult for people to appreciate the sheer magnitude of this disaster because of the wide spread affects in different parts of the state,” said Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency. “We decided the best way to educate people about this disaster was to document the impacts on video and talk to experts who explain how unusual, and powerful, this storm system really was.”

The video includes as-it-happened video footage of a major landslide on Nelson Road in Santa Cruz County, as well as home-video of flood waters raging through downtown Capitol, inundating their police department and emergency operations center. It also features in-depth interviews with an expert from the National Weather Service in Monterey; officials from the most affected county of Santa Cruz and state emergency managers.

To view the video, visit the California Emergency Management Agency website or this link http://1.usa.gov/calema-disaster-video.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

#LAFD Public Help Sought in Battling North Hollywood Arson Fires #Video

NORTH HOLLYWOOD - The Los Angeles Fire Department's Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section is investigating a series of intentionally set fires that occurred this week along the Lankershim Boulevard corridor between Burbank Boulevard and Saticoy Street in North Hollywood.

LAFD Investigators are urging residents to be alert, make note of suspicious activity and minimize the threat of arson by removing dry vegetation, trash and debris. Property owners are also encouraged to use outdoor lighting, lock their vehicles and place rubbish within covered trash cans in well-secured areas to curtail the possibility of arson.

The active investigation into these purposely set fires is being led by the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section, working closely with officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood Community Police Station.
Anyone witnessing active fire, fire-setting or imminent danger to life and property is encouraged to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Those with information about this arson spree or other suspicious fires, should call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section directly at (213) 485-6095
or the on-duty Operations Control Dispatch (OCD) Floor Captain at (213) 485-4701.

(link to video)

For the latest information, please visit official LAFD blog at http://lafd.blogspot.com/
Brian Humphrey - Emergency Public Information (EPI) Center
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 N. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-5162
"Serving with Courage, Integrity and Pride"

LAFD "Official Statement" RE: North Hollywood Arson Investigation

Following, is an "Official Statement" the LAFD released to the media on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm.
The LAFD Public Service Office is in the process of updating our Blog and will have that posted later this afternoon with additional information.
Thank you.

Los Angeles Fire Department Official Statement
RE: North Hollywood Arson Investigation

Date: July 24, 2011

“The Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section is working closely with officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood Community Police Station in an active, ongoing investigation. As many as 18 fires appear to have deliberately set over the course of the last several days, dating back to the early morning hours of Thursday, July 21. This series of fires, all listed as “suspicious in nature,” are concentrated in the North Hollywood area.
The LAFD has re-called off-duty investigators to assist with the investigation. 

We encourage the public to remain vigilant and ask that anyone with information regarding this arson spree or other suspicious fires, to call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section directly at (213) 485-6095 or the on-duty Operations Control Dispatch Floor Captain at (213) 485-4701.

As always…anyone witnessing active fire, fire-setting or imminent danger to life and property is encouraged to call 9-1-1 immediately.”
Matt Spence Public Service Officer - Emergency Public Information (EPI) Center
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 N. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-5162 "Serving with Courage, Integrity and Pride"

For the latest information, please visit official LAFD blog at http://lafd.blogspot.com/

CA-MVU-EAGLE - Wildfire - Update 11000 acres 40% contained , 2 injuries

The Eagle Fire, which began Thursday night on the Los Coyote Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County, has now grown to 11,000 acres and two injuries have been reported.

Closures: The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail and Campground in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park are closed. The Boy Scout Camp has also been closed.
Date/Time Started: July 21, 2011 10:40 pm  
Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE San Diego Unit 
County: San Diego County  
Location: Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Warner Springs  
Acres Burned: 11,000 acres  
Containment 11,000 acres - 40% contained  
Structures Destroyed:1 outbuilding  
Evacuations: Two cabins near the fire area were evacuated.  
Injuries: 2  
Cause: Under Investigation 
Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, San Diego County Fire Authority, US Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, California Department of Parks & Recreation, Cal EMA, San Diego Gas & Electric, California Conservation Corps, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Air National Guard.  
Total Fire Personnel: 1,120 (CAL FIRE 902)  
Engines: 63 (CAL FIRE 35)  
Fire crews: 74 (CAL FIRE 52)  
Airtankers: 6 (CAL FIRE)  
Helicopters: 19  
Dozers: 8 (CAL FIRE 4)  
Water tenders: 25 (CAL FIRE 14)  
Costs to date: $ 4.5 million  
Major Incident Command Team: Incident Command Team (ICT) 10 has been activated.  
Conditions: The fire is burning in a mix of grass, brush, oak and pine trees in steep, rugged terrain on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The fire is moving toward the northwest and is visible from the desert community of Borrego Springs.
Phone Numbers  (619) 590-3160 (Eagle Fire Information) 

Eagle Fire Perimeter Map
Credit: California Fire News

The fire is considered 40% contained and no structures have been damaged, although two cabins were evacuated and Native American archaeological sites are considered imperiled.

The fire has moved through rugged terrain thick with tall brush and is now visible from Borrego Springs. Its cause is not known.

More than 1,100 firefighters are battling the blaze. The cost of fighting the fire is estimated at more than $2.5 million.



 
Notes: Major Incident Command Team: Incident Command Team (ICT) 10 has been activated. Activating California National Guard Helicopters for crew shuttles due to remote access, Air National Guard aircraft will assist with fire suppression and transportation of hand crews.

LAFD Blog News: LAFD Mourns the Passing of a Fellow Firefighter

As you may have recently heard, the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department are mourning the off-duty passing of fellow Firefighter Eric Shepherd.


The LAFD would like to share some additional information about this very special man...

Eric Shepherd was born on July 12th, 1978 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Raised in Carson, California, Eric graduated from Long Beach Jordan High School in 1996. Later that year, Eric joined the United States Air Force and served as a firefighter in Kuwait and at home at Edwards Air Force Base. After four years of dedicated service to his country, Eric was honorably discharged as a Senior Airman.

In July of 2003, Eric joined the Los Angeles Fire Department. Following the drill tower and probationary assignments, Eric transferred to Fire Station 29 in Battalion 11, serving the Wilshire Center and Mid City areas of Los Angeles. Widely recognized as a conscientious and talented firefighter as well as a generous and genuine friend, Eric quickly earned the respect and admiration of his peers and the public he proudly served. He successfully tested for the rank of engineer and was looking forward to the added challenges and responsibilities of the promotion.

Eric Shepherd died suddenly while off-duty on July 18th, 2011. He is survived by his father, Ronald and his stepmother Cindy, his mother Loretta, sister Rene, and the love of his life Cacherel Smaith, with whom he brought into this world and raised as the apple of his eye, his daughter Sarai.

He was a credit to his family and friends, his country, the fire service and his department. His warmth, laughter, and easy going demeanor will always be cherished. Eric will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.

Firefighter Shepherd was assigned to Fire Station 29 "C" Platoon.

Public Memorial services for LAFD Firefighter Eric Shepherd have been scheduled:

Date: Friday, July 29, 2011
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Crenshaw Christian Center, 7901 South Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA.
Procession: From church to cemetery- (details to be determined)
Interment: Forest Lawn Cypress (details to be determined)
Vigil: Crawford Mortuary (details to be determined)

Members of the Fire Service and allied agencies that wish to have a formal presence, are asked to contact LAFD's Planning Section at (213) 978-3845.


All members of the community are welcome to join us in celebrating the life of Eric Shepherd. We thank you for the outpouring of kind remarks.

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department information from LAFD Blog

Friday, July 22, 2011

CA-SQF-Lion - Tulare County Wildfire - 5,500 Acres Golden Trout Wilderness

Lion Wildfire Information Update Released: The Lion Fire has grown to approximately 5,500 acres. The fire showed several days of significant growth a few days ago, including 1,900 acres on July 19. However, fire growth and activity has diminished in the last two days, growing only 105 acres on July 21.

Firefighters are actively working to protect private property and cabins near the fire, including creating better defensible space around cabins, placing hose and firelines near these structures, and completing small burnout operations to develop a perimeter around these areas.
Firefighters are looking for opportunities to ignite at higher elevation, either aerially or on the ground, to promote backing fire. This will help encourage desired fire behavior in an area that has not seen fire in over 90 years.
Weather conditions and expected fire behavior will dictate this action. Portions of the Golden Trout Wilderness are closed for safety concerns in these areas.
The Lion Wildfire response is achieving Region 5 Leadership Intent as stated in a March 2011 Forest Service report. Fire response is founded on a commitment to land and resource management that is based on principles of ecological restoration and dedicated to make land and water ecosystems more sustainable, more resilient, and healthier under current and future conditions. The full report can be found on the Forest Service Region 5 website: https://c3portal.nps.gov/,host=www.fs.fed.us,port=80,proto=http/r5/EcologicalRestoration/.
"Those aspects of fire that are unfavorable, such as smoke, using the strategies such as burning out on this fire, are outweighed by immediate benefits of firefighter and public safety, as well as future ecological restoration benefits," stated Western Divide District Ranger Priscilla Summers. "It is fortunate that this wildfire occurred during a wet year rather than a drought year, when much more smoke and damage to resources would result."

Public meeting: planned for Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 pm in Kernville at the Odd Fellows Hall at 50 Tobias Street. District Rangers, Incident Commanders, and representatives from the Eastern Kern APCD and Kern County Public Health will be in attendance to answer questions about the current fire situation, future strategy for the Lion Fire, and to address concerns about smoke impacts. 
Incident: Lion Wildfire
Location: Golden Trout Wilderness with the spread to the east and north primarily. The fire is located a half mile to the west of Loin Meadow.Fire is on the Golden Trout Wilderness, Tulare County
Cause: Lightning
Resources: Fire is staffed by firefighters who are monitoring
the fire by taking fire behavior, weather, smoke dispersal
Observations, and mapping fire spread. Incident is being managed using Monitor/Confine/Contain strategies.
SQF BC-23
Crews: C-2, 20 fire use mods, C-8 Breckenridge IHC, C-9 Springville IHC, CH-2, Engine 23, H-522
KNP DV-1, C-6 Arrowhead Hotshots, PIO-1, H-552(off and on)
LPF PT-17
Fire behavior: The fire has been backing, flanking, with moderate fire behavior and major fire movement to the west.
The growth was 2100 acres for the last two days.
Smoke/Air Quality: The smoke from the fire had impacts in Independence and the Kern River Valley with the down canyon flow.
Fuels: Open Jeffrey Pine litter and Montane Chaparral, Red Fir primarily above 7,000 ft.
Web Cams: http://sierrafire.cr.usgs.gov/realti...mountain_1.jpg
http://sierrafire.cr.usgs.gov/realti...man_peak_2.jpg
http://sierrafire.cr.usgs.gov/realti...mountain_2.jpg
http://sierrafire.cr.usgs.gov/realti...rk_ridge_2.jpg
Fire information: Kernville #760-379-5646 ext. 515, or Springville #559-539-2607 ext. 214.  

CA-MVU-EAGLE - Wildfire - 10500 acres 30% contained, 2 injuries

Eagle, CA-MVU-008019
UPDATE 7-24 0900: The Eagle Fire, which began Thursday night on the Los Coyote Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County, has now grown to 10500 acres 30% contained and two injuries have been reported, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Saturday.
UPDATE 7-24 0900: Eagle Camino San Ignacio X Eagle Nests Rd. 3 miles east of Warner Springs
(Los Coyotes Indian Reservation)
4000 acres, 30 % Contained SRA / BIA & State parks
80°, 24% RH, 3 mph, ESE
Fire making significant runs @ 0600 this morning.
 
Eagle Fire Incident Information: Jurisdiction: BIA and SRA



Date/Time Started: July 21, 2011 10:40 am
Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE San Diego Unit
County: San Diego County
Location: Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Warner Springs

North East portion of San Diego County
Status:
Acres Burned: 1,000 acres
Containment 1,000 acres -10% contained
Threatened: 2
Evacuations: Evacuated Residents from two cabins near the fire area.
Cause: Under Investigation
Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, San Diego County Sheriffs Office, BIA, STATE PARKS
Resources: 
Total Fire Personnel: 236
Engines: 22
Fire crews: 10
Dozers: 3
Water tenders: 8
 Notes:
1000 acres 10%, medium to heavy fuels with oaks and pines crowning out.
Potential for 2,000+ acres
Moderate ROS No current threat to communities or Power lines
Fire is in a remote portion of San Diego County Mountains spreading east towards the desert floor.

Yuba County: CAL FIRE live fire training next week

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that it will conduct live fire training next week at the UC Field Station site north of Smartsville in Yuba County.

When: Training will begin Monday and continue through July 29  The burn will start between 8 and 10 a.m. each day, depending on weather conditions, and continue into the afternoon.
Where: University of California Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center Field Station. The burn site is off Peoria Road, approximately four miles east of Highway 20 and three miles north of Smartsville.
Why: The 180-acre burn will allow firefighter to experience wild land firefighting tactics in a controlled environment. It also will eradicate hazardous vegetation and noxious weeds, including yellow star thistle and Medusa Head, according to a Cal Fire news release.
Who: CAL FIRE Firefighters working in firing teams will work to control the fire intensity and ensure that it progresses in a safe manner, according to the news release. Cal Fire personnel will continue to check the area for several days.
  Smoke will be visible from Highway 20, Browns Valley, Smartsville, Penn Valley, Grass Valley, Nevada City and surrounding communities.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

TGU: Vina Plains controlled burn today


A controlled burn on the Vina Plains is going on today until about 3 p.m.

What: Cal-Fire Tehama/Glenn unit will be burning 523 acres of grass on the Nature Conservancy's Vina Plains Preserve. The burn will occur in compartments.

Where: The area being burned is to the east of Highway 99, off Lassen Road in Tehama County.

Why: Invasive plants including starthistle and medusa head are the targets of the burn, which is intended to improve rangeland and reduce noxious grass species for better cattle grazing, according to Cal-Fire.

Who: Activated for the burn are a CAL FIRE helicopter, five engines and a handcrew.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scorpion Complex - Wildland Fires - 2900 acres, 10%

Scorpion Complex Modoc National Forest Incident Overview

Friday evening at around 6:15, four fires broke out almost simultaneously on the Modoc National Forest about 20 miles southeast of the city of Tulelake.

Named the Scorpion Complex, three of the four fires total just over 2900 acres. 
The smallest fire, Track, was only .1 acres and has been contained.
Of the remaining three fires, Scorpion is currently at 1587 acres, Mammoth has burned 1351 acres and Point is listed at 5 acres.
The fire was declared 10% contained at noon on Saturday. The causes of the fires are under investigation.

Incident commander Tyler Otterson, stated Saturday that aggressive suppression efforts are focused on perimeter containment of the fires to reduce the potential threat of spread. Mop-up operations will continue until the fires are declared controlled. As of noon on Saturday there have been no injuries and no evacuations have been ordered.

Cooperating and assisting agengies:BLM, Cal Fire, National Park Service, Burlington-Northern RR, PGE, Tulelake Fire

Basic Information
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Friday July 15th, 2011 approx. 06:45 PM
Location Scorpion Point 10 miles North of Tionesta
GPS 41.805 latitude, -121.363 longitude
Incident Commander Tyler Otterson

Current Situation
Total Personnel 225 - The following resources are committed to the Scorpion Complex: 200 personnel 20 engines 3 dozers 3 water tenders 2 helicopters 2 air tankers
Size 2,944 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Estimated Containment Date Wednesday July 20th, 2011 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved 10 Timber ( litter and Understory )Timber, Brush and Juniper
Fire Behavior Short Duration fire runs, Fire behavior moderated overnight with some movement to the Northeast.
Outlook/Planned Actions Continue line construction; holding and patrol/mop up. Keep fire away from powerlines and assess structure threat as needed. Protect historic sites.
Concerns A .500 KV power line remains an area of concern and no structures are threatened.
Growth Potential High
Terrain Difficulty High
Current Weather   Cooler weather with higher humidity is expected over the weekend with a 10% chance of rain. Firefighters are preparing for potentially erratic winds from forecasted thunderstorms.
Wind Conditions 7-15 mph SW
Temperature 75 degrees

Saturday, July 16, 2011

San Diego County: - Controlled Burn - Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station

What: Camp Pendleton Fire Department U.S. Marine Corps firefighters will conduct a brush-clearing controlled burn on the grounds of Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station, military officials said.

Who: Camp Pendleton Fire Department is scheduled to ignite the blaze near the western edge of Fallbrook at 9 a.m.today according to the USMC station's public affairs office.
Why: The roughly 50-acre burn is intended to reduce wildfire hazards in the area, according to officials.

Carmageddon Updates and the #LAFD Motorcycle Response Team

 Most Recent Update 405 Closure: 4-16-11 1100hrs - NO TRAFFIC PROBLEMS REPORTED - The Unified Command Center would like to say  "Great job Los Angeles." 
 "Thank you for staying out of the closure area. The project is on schedule thanks to the public’s cooperation."
 But they ask that the public not get complacent.
"There’s a long weekend ahead of us. It is of critical importance that commuters continue to avoid the area. This is a great weekend to get on your bike, take a walk and shop locally."
  • Freeway was successfully closed without incident
  • Traffic control is in all places
  • Protective dirt cover is completed
  • Nearly done slotting top deck on center span
  • Very close to demo of girders using high rise hoe rams from below
  • Work continues on schedule
Mulholland Bridge destruction
Credit:  @Kevin Takumi on Twitpic
 405 Closure: July 15, 2011 through July 18, 2011, the North and Southbound I-405 Freeway and the Mulholland Drive overpass in both directions, will be closed for up to 53 continuous hours. This, due to the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge overpass. The closure may cause widespread and heavy traffic congestion through the Sepulveda Pass and outlying neighborhoods. Consequently, these conditions may impact the response of emergency vehicles into those areas and could have the potential to cause delays in providing medical assistance to residents and passersby.
When: As a reminder, on-ramp and off-ramp closures are scheduled to begin as early as 7pm on Friday, July 15, 2011. Freeway lane closures will begin, one-by-one, starting at 10pm, in order to achieve a "full closure" by midnight, July 16, 2011. The "full-closure" will remain in effect until Monday, July 18, 2011, until approximately 5am, when I-405 is scheduled to re-open. All ramps and connectors are scheduled to be re-opened by 6am.

LAFD Motorcycle Response Team
Credit: LAFD flickr account link
LAFD Motorcycle Response Team
Our continuous efforts to maintain high standards of service and lower response times, challenge us to be both innovative and consistent. To that end, the LAFD has developed a unique response team for these locations, that will make its debut this weekend. Motorcycle Response Teams ("Motor Teams") will be deployed at two different locations (Fire Stations 99 & 109) to enhance our service to these affected areas.

Riding Kawasaki KLX 650 motorcycles (kindly on-loan for the weekend from our friends at Kawasaki Motor Corp.), our Firefighter/EMTs will have the ability to more easily move through traffic enroute to an emergency incident. A two-member team (one team = two motorcycles, each with one Firefighter/EMT) will be strategically placed on both the East and West sides of the I-405 freeway. These teams will also patrol their assigned areas, providing up-to-the-minute intelligence on access and egress issues, as well as continuous monitoring of alternate response routes.

Each Motor Team will be equipped with a cache of Basic Life Support (BLS) equipment, to include an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), oxygen, other essential medical equipment and supplies to handle most medical incidents, until additional assistance arrives. As these motorcycles will be patrolling a largely "brush area," they will also be equipped with "saddle bags" to allow for the stowing of a fire shelter and some brush firefighting personal protective equipment. Each "rider" will also have a GPS unit attached to the motorcycle, a radio and Departmental maps.

Upon an emergency or medical incident, the Motor Team will take appropriate action in managing the incident and rendering basic medical care, as necessary. The Teams offer our response, safe and quick maneuverability, flexibility and the opportunity to render continuous care until a patient is transferred to another LAFD resource for transport. These motorcycles are not equipped with lights or sirens and therefore, will respond with caution. The Motor Teams will be deployed during daylight hours only, from 6:00am - 9:00pm on both Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17.

It should be noted, this is a "pilot program" only and may or may not be continued, based largely on the success of the program over this weekend. Future use of the "Motor Teams" may include deployment at large scale incidents up to and including earthquakes, brush fires and in times of high hazard, extreme weather conditions.


LAFD I-405 Freeway Closure - Update

By now, most Los Angeles residents (and even some of our visitors) are aware that the Los Angeles County Metro Agency is currently working on a significant project involving the I-405 Freeway. A HOV lane is being added on the northbound I-405 Freeway from the I-10 to the US 101. To accomplish this, the demolition and subsequent reconstruction of the Mulholland Drive Bridge, will require a full freeway closure of both the I-405 Freeway and the Mulholland Drive overpass in both directions for up to 53 continuous hours. This weekend, July 15 through July 18, it is anticipated that traffic may be backed-up as far as 68 miles to the south and 23 miles to the north.

What is Los Angeles Fire Department is doing:

A Unified Command (incorporating LAFD, CHP, LADOT & LAPD) has been developed to manage all "issues" associated with this freeway closure. The Los Angeles Fire Department is responsible for Fire Suppression and Emergency Medical Services within, what Unified Command is referring to, as an "Operational Area." This will effectively capture all of the impacted areas up and down the I-405 Freeway.

The LAFD has developed a "response plan" to address the potential for increased response times that may result from the I-405 Freeway closure. The LAFD will strategically pre-deploy and also staff, additional resources consisting of trucks, engines and other Fire apparatus to handle all emergencies throughout the Sepulveda pass area. An additional 200 Firefighters will be deployed as follows:
Mulholland Bridge destruction on Twitpic
Mountain Gate - 1 Engine, 2 Rescue Ambulance, Brush Patrol.
Bel Air Crest - 1 Engine, 2 Rescue Ambulance, Brush Patrol.
Fire Station 99 - 1 Truck Company, 3 Engine Companies, 2 Rescue Ambulance, 1 Brush Patrol,
1 Motorcycle Recon Team, 1 Water Tender and 1 Battalion Chief.
Fire Station 109 - 1 Truck Company, 3 Engine Companies, 2 Rescue Ambulance, 1 Brush Patrol, 1 Motorcycle Recon Team, 1 Water Tender and 1 Battalion Chief.
Fire Station 59 -  3 Engine Companies and 1 Battalion Chief.
Fire Station 19 - 1 additional Engine Company.
Fire Station 69 - 1 additional Engine Company.
Fire Station 71 - 1 additional Engine Company.
Air Operations - 1 additional Air Ambulance (helicopter).
As always, the LAFD will work in conjunction with with Los Angeles County DHS to ensure the best possible patient care and will closely monitor any transportation issues, as well as hospital availability.


More Information:

Click here for detour maps, closure boundaries, and time lapse photography of the demolition.
Click here for real time traffic conditions on the regional alternate freeways.
Click here for updated messages via twitter.

To follow the construction progress, visit www.Metro.net/405.
For the latest traffic information visit www.go511.com.


Remember Metro’s Red/Purple subway lines, Metro Orange line are offering free service to riders. In addition, twenty-six metro bus lines on the west side are offering free rides to get around the closure area.

Compiled from information released by:
Erik Scott & Matthew Spence, Spokesmen
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 N. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-5162
Emergency Public Information (EPI) Center

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cal EMA News Blog

Cal EMA News Blog


Governor Brown Appeals FEMA’s Denial of Presidential Major Disaster Declaration

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:18 PM PDT

*The following news release was issued by the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on Thursday, July 14, 2011.  The official release may be found here.*

SACRAMENTO – In a letter to President Barack Obama, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today appealed a denial by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare a major disaster and provide federal assistance and statewide Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding for counties impacted by severe storms in March.

Governor Brown requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on April 22, 2011, after declaring states of emergency in Alameda, Amador, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, Tuolumne and Ventura Counties. Marin County was subsequently added to this list on July 13, 2011. The Governor's request can be found here.

FEMA denied the Governor's request on June 21, 2011. Current estimates of the damage caused by the storm now exceed $51 million.

The full text of the letter is below:

July 13, 2011

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
 
Through:          Ms. Nancy Ward
Regional Administrator, Region IX
Federal Emergency Management Agency
1111 Broadway, Suite 1200
Oakland, California 94607-4052

Dear Mr. President:

On June 21, 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the major federal disaster declaration I requested for the State of California.  I made the request because of the results of a severe storm system that struck California between March 15 and March 27, 2011.  I am appealing the FEMA denial of my request for Public Assistance and direct federal assistance for the significantly-impacted counties, as well as statewide Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding.

The March storm system caused significant financial impacts to the state and the affected local jurisdictions that are of such severity and magnitude that recovery efforts remain beyond our capabilities.  And the damage estimates continue to increase, with the current estimates exceeding $51 million. This critical need for federal help prompted my requests for assistance through various programs, including a request for a major disaster declaration.

The damages sustained were the result of a single event.

FEMA's denial letter stated its opinion that the storm incident was comprised of three separate storms. However, the National Weather Service and the California Department of Water Resources have concluded that the series of severe winter storms was part of the same parent intense low-pressure system.  The system, which temporarily set up over the region for nearly two weeks, had a persistently active jet stream and associated atmospheric rivers  that shifted from north to south and back again across the state.  Its main weather impacts were extreme precipitation, with heavy rain in the low elevations and snow in the high elevations, and strong winds, especially in the Central Valley and at higher elevations.  As the jet stream and atmospheric rivers shifted, the focus of the heavy precipitation changed with never more than two days between heavy precipitations in any single declared area in the state.

During the evaluation process of a request for a major disaster declaration late last year that was a result of an atmospheric river, FEMA Region IX's Regional Administrator indicated that, "a Stafford Act major disaster declaration for a storm event is limited to (1) a single storm, or (2) a series of storms that are deemed to be part of the same storm system that impact the same geographical areas, such that the impacts from the separate storms are indistinguishable, and are separated by three days or less."   The March storm system satisfies the second category.

Further, the conditions of the March storm system are the same type of occurrence that the state experienced in December of last year in which a federal major disaster declaration was granted.   Also, atmospheric rivers have been present in several California weather-related major disaster declarations.  See December 2010 (DR-1952), December 2004/January 2005 (DR-1577), February 1998 (DR-1203), January 1997 (DR-1155), and February 1986 (DR-758).

The precipitation levels of the March storm system event indicate it was the third-wettest storm event in 90 years.  The average statewide snow water equivalent (SWE) on March 1, 2011, was 32 inches and 109 percent of average.   On April 1, 2011, following the March storm system event, the SWE significantly increased to 48 inches and 165 percent of average.  The gain of 16 inches of SWE in one month is significant as it equates to half of an entire winter season's gain.

Because the damages sustained were the result of the same storm system my request for a major federal disaster declaration should be granted.

Additional factors support the major federal disaster declaration.

Estimated Cost of Assistance (44 C.F.R. § 206.48(a)(l))

Under the regulations, a per capita figure measures the impact of a disaster within a state.  California's impact indicator is $44 million.  Based upon the joint FEMA-State preliminary damage assessment, our damages exceed that amount.  And subsequent damages have been reported, resulting in current damage estimates exceeding $51 million.

Localized Impacts (44 C.F.R. § 206.48(a)(2))

The impacts at the local level are significant and overwhelming.  In Santa Cruz County the current damage estimates have reached nearly $19 million, which exceeds the county's threshold for assistance as prescribed by FEMA by more than 2,200 percent. Other counties also exceed the threshold: Sierra County by nearly 4,000 percent, Mendocino and Sutter counties by nearly 2,000 percent each, and Amador and Trinity counties by more than 1,200 percent each.

In addition to an extraordinary concentration of damages in many counties, the fierce storm system stressed California's mutual aid system and exhausted local resources in many areas of the state.  For example, Del Norte County has recently reported that it has completely exhausted its road department resources.  And in Monterey County the storm system event altered the Carmel River Channel alignment because of the combination of high river flows and extremely high surf.  Elsewhere conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property still exist due to progressive landslide activity.

For Mariposa County, which hosts more than three million Yosemite National Park visitors annually, the March storm system event remains an operational and financial disaster beyond the County's ability to recover. The storm caused the closure of Yosemite National Park and nearly 100 young campers were stranded at a snowed-in campground until crews were able to clear the snow impacted roadways.  Also, the storm caused significant power losses and a lack of potable water, and downed power and phone lines throughout most of the county.  Due to the inability to deliver water and sewer services, Yosemite visitors and residents were evacuated.  Every available snow plow, tree removal crew, firefighter, law enforcement officer, and dispatcher was mobilized to preserve life and property.  Also, numerous state entities worked to remedy the downed power lines, including the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation, which assisted by airlifting workers into the impacted sites via helicopter to repair the damaged transmission lines.

State and local resources were also deployed in California's coastal communities to alleviate the impacts of the storm system.  For instance, in Santa Cruz County, local responders constructed an 850-foot long emergency temporary bypass road to enable access to residences that were completely inaccessible to emergency vehicles and essential services due to a debris flow.  However, the temporary bypass was constructed through private property in a riparian corridor and is insufficient to withstand the next winter season.  The debris flow is so significant and unstable that the County has not yet been able to begin removing the debris and it had to contract with an engineering geologist to evaluate the site and to offer recommendations for removal and restoration.

State and local resources were also activated in the inland areas of California due to this severe storm system.  In Sutter County, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Conservation Corps, county staff, and volunteers were deployed to guard against a possible complete and catastrophic failure of a levee that protects local agricultural operations, homes, and schools.  As reiterated in a recent letter I received from Sutter County's Office of Emergency Management, a complete failure of the levee has the potential to cause "billions of dollars in additional damages and the possible loss of lives and livelihood."  Although all damages will not be eligible under a major disaster declaration, Sutter County, a small county with less than one hundred thousand residents, has experienced more than $23 million in extreme storm related damages due to this disaster.

Hazard Mitigation (44 C.F.R. § 206.48(a)(4))

California has been aggressive in implementing mitigation efforts and has an enhanced Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan that was approved by FEMA in October 2010.  Specifically, in the counties impacted by the March storm system event, 41 flood mitigation projects have been completed, which equates to more than $83 million in estimated losses avoided.  In addition to the tens of millions of dollars in avoided losses, we firmly believe that these aggressive proactive mitigation efforts have also resulted in lives being saved in the affected areas.

Recent Multiple Disasters (44 C.F.R. § 206.48(a)(5))

California has suffered multiple disasters in the last 18 months due to severe winter storms, flooding, mudslides, fires, drought, heavy rains, and earthquakes.  Since January 2010, California has received four major federal disaster declarations, had six fires declared under FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, endured twenty events for which funds under the California Disaster Assistance Act were issued, and received four disaster designations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ten U.S. Small Business Administration designations.  More than 75 percent of California's population is covered under at least one of the recent federal disaster declarations with a combined total of more than $236 million in eligible damages statewide, which equates to approximately $7 per capita statewide. As a result of the significant number of recent disasters, California continues to struggle to cope with the financial impacts of these disasters.  Additionally, the impact at the local level during the last three months alone is even more daunting; for example, damages in Santa Cruz County have exceeded $45 million, which is $178 per capita, and damages in Del Norte County have exceeded $21 million, which is $778 per capita.

Other Federal Assistance (44 C.F.R. § 206.48(a)(6))

In addition to the federal Public Assistance program and statewide funding under HMGP, I have specifically sought assistance through other appropriate federal programs, including the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loans program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Emergency Loan Program.

California has met the eligibility criteria for a major disaster declaration.  We have provided additional supporting information from the National Weather Service and the California Department of Water Resources validating the original assertion that the damages sustained were the result of a single event.  Also, we have substantiated that the magnitude of the damages and the monetary cost to the state, as well as the economic impact on local governments, exceeds our combined capabilities.

I respectfully seek your favorable consideration of this appeal and request that you declare a major disaster for California as a result of the March storm system event.

Sincerely,

 

Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Enclosures

Enclosure A

Enclosure B

Enclosure C

Enclosure D

###


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.
View blog top tags
---------------------
CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO TOP OF CALIFORNIA FIRE NEWS HOME PAGE