Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summit Fire Info 5/22/08

An update on the Summit fire from my (personal!) perspective.

Please note that I am not allowed to speak for CALFIRE or Santa Cruz County Fire. (Those who know me well know that I am lucky to speak for myself, let alone anyone else.)

Oh, and some of this may be repetitive for some of you. I apologize, but I'm sending this info to a lot of people, and rather than write it all up several times, I figured I'd just do it once.

Anyway, here's what has happened to me so far as a result of this fire:

  • 5:30am 5/22 - Pager goes off calling the local paid engine out of county to (what turns out to be) this fire.
  • 5:45am 5/22 - Pager goes off requesting my department's water tender. I get up and head to the station where it is kept, but I'm not the first one there and it only seats two. Once the driver arrives, there's no room for me, so I go home. But I see the smoke and the wind is howling, so I know this isn't good.
  • 9am 5/22 - Go to the LPVFR main station. I'm expecting to get sent somewhere, but we aren't. Hang out for a while, do some equipment checkout, etc. We get the word that things are easing off a bit, so we staff down and I head home at about noon. Of course, that's too good to last...
  • 1:20pm - Listening to the pager for the last hour has been crazy. Various other fires are starting up in oddball places - none near us, but we could get paged out to any of them at any time because so much equipment is in use at the big fire. So in desperation I headed back to the station. At about this time one of our engines is sent to one of these smaller fires well away from us. (Yet another reason to go to the station... we need to cover it now that three more of our people have left.)
  • 5pm - My only call so far. A tree limb into wires on a local road. Nothing we can do except ask for PG&E to come fix it, so we head back to the station
  • 7:30pm - Winds have died down and things are clearly calmer now. A new cover crew is in place at the local paid station, so our department stands down and those of us that haven't gone to one of the incidents are released to go home.
And now I'm typing this blog post up.

For those who are curious about the incident itself and the associated statistics, the official source (updated several times a day until it's all over) can be found here:

In addition, you can see some pictures taken by my department chief here:

Our home is 7 or 8 miles west of the fire, and so far the fire has been burning basically south. Thus, while I'm sure it has gotten a bit closer to our house, it's still a very long way away. If the winds stay calm now, the dozers will scrape a super highway around it all tomorrow and that will stop it's advance.

Anne and I have had offers of help from many of you, and we thank you for your thoughtfulness. Right now we have no need to evacuate, and correspondingly we have no need to stay elsewhere. Should that come to pass, rest assured we'll take someone up on their offer, and we will be most appreciative. However, for the moment, I think we're safe. And it is my suspicion that we'll be just fine tomorrow as well.

What worries more than anything else is the size and scope of this fire in May. If it as August or September I wouldn't be surprised. I've said it looks like it could be a bad fire season, and this only reinforces that thought. For those who live in our area, please be sure to get your property cleaned up as required by the 100' clearance law. If you don't know what that means let me know and I'll get you more information.

Things are heating up, and we may see more events like this. Please be careful, do what you need to prepare and stay safe!

All the best, and thanks again for your offers of help, lodging, and/or support. Anne and I are very lucky to know so many good people!