Sunday, May 25, 2008

Summit Fire Update 5/24/08

I am considering turning this email into a an actual blog, but there's no time to do that right now. The number of people I am sending it to continues to grow and these kinds of fires drag on for long periods, so there will be additional updates. If you have any thoughts about that, feel free to send them to me. (Ed Note: If you're reading this in the blog, the above has clearly already happened. Oh well.)

Saturday didn't bring a lot of fire related news my way. Those locals who watch television are probably better informed than I am on things right now.

I did hear aircraft today, and I was told by a friend that aircraft were working the fire yesterday as well. That's good. As I write this update the temperature is 49 degrees outside and there is still no wind to speak of at my home. We still might get rain as well. Ideal conditions for fire fighting as far as I can tell, so long as the possible lightning doesn't materialize.

The CALFIRE incident page about this event has gotten a bit more interesting. It now has links to maps and more details about fire activity.

This fire is a big deal, and as if to prove the point, our governor paid a visit to the incident command post yesterday.

One bit of news that surprised me is that they had wind at the fire last night. As I reported yesterday it was calm here, and we had no wind last night that I know of at our home. But one news article said they had some gusts of wind at 40 MPH last night and the fire jumped containment in one or two places as a result, though I think they caught it again quickly.

We're dealing with forces of nature, and our efforts are pretty small in comparison.

I spent Saturday morning at my local fire station in one of our regularly scheduled training sessions. This time we were doing rigging for over-the-side rescue work, specifically lowering and raising systems. That's a type of call I haven't been on yet, but we do get them. Usually it's a vehicle off the side of a road and down an embankment somewhere. We don't have many cliffs in our response area, so these are generally relatively low angle rescues, and that's what we were training for. We have some very good people who know this material well. As a result I am confident that I'll be safe when asked to participate in this kind of work.

Changing topics, I need to thank everyone for their responses and good wishes. If I don't reply directly to you, please accept my apologies. Sometimes I have a lot of time, sometimes I have none. I try to reply, though.

One reader asked who they could donate money to in order to help the victims of this fire. I have one answer but I am also looking for others. That first answer should have appeared in yesterday's email, but in my hurry to get it out I forgot to include it.

The Red Cross is always looking for donations after events like the Summit fire. I've learned from our friend Avis that the local chapters of the Red Cross (Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and others) are coordinating their efforts in this case. Avis is a board member of the Santa Clara Red Cross Chapter, and thus a good source of information on their needs.

She tells me that the local Red Cross chapters wind up spending a lot of money doing their part to assist with overseas disasters, like the earthquake in China or the cyclone in Myanmar, but no portion of donations earmarked for those big disasters are shared with the local chapters. That means local chapters need donations to handle local issues.

I also know that the Red Cross is called out to much smaller events. I've personally heard them requested to help a single family after their home was damaged in a fire leaving them with no place to go.

Thus, the Red Cross needs money to assist the victims of local events like this one. If you are willing and able to contribute, one place to do so is:

That's the Santa Clara Valley Chapter where Avis volunteers, but you're welcome to contribute to your local chapter as well. The Santa Cruz Chapter can be found here:

Both of those links let you contribute specifically for the victims of the Summit Fire.

If you do contribute and are asked, please mention "Avis Brown" as the person who referred or encouraged you to donate as they try to track who's effectively soliciting contributions. I've done a fair bit of volunteer work, so I have a sense of what it takes. Based on that experience, my heartfelt thanks go out to Avis for her efforts on behalf of the Red Cross. And to anyone else doing similar work. Thank you!

Beyond the Red Cross, I am also looking for other ways that the victims of the Summit fire might be helped. Sometimes there are funds setup to assist people in cases like this, but so far I haven't heard about any. If you encounter anything like that, please let me know. I will share that information in future mailings.

And if you see anything else that might be of interest to those interested in this fire, please feel free to send it my way.

Finally, I've volunteered to take a 12 hour shift on our department's water tender on Sunday night. It may be interesting or boring, depending on where we're stationed and what is going on. And of course I won't know until I get there. As a result of that work, though, my next update probably won't come out until Monday afternoon. You get a day off from these missives as a result.

Once again, I thank you all for your concern and your good wishes.

Please stay safe and well!