Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Fire -- too close for comfort

Rim Fire Incident Status  click here
For the non-professional view of residents, look here.

Refresh these pages each time you go back to it to assure that you are getting current information.

This fire is w-a-y too close for comfort.  It is in the Tuolumne River Canyon at the Clavey, into and around Buck Meadows, in up Pilot Ridge.  The old Pilot Peak fire lookout is readily visible from the eastern intersection of Hwy 120 and Ferretti Road.  My house is on Ferretti Road (a loop) near the Pine Mountain Lake Airport.

Yesterday afternoon, the total acres burned had been upped from 800 to 2500.  This morning it is over 10,000 acres.

That said, I am near the edge of, but still in, a subdivision, complete with hydrants.  The Tuolumne River canyon is approximately 1 mile north of the house, but not far from us makes a little bend to the southeast towards its source in Yosemite National Park.  We are on a belt road.  There is a light plane airport between the house and the river.  From that north side, the lines of defense are the airport and then Ferretti road.  If they loose the line at Ferretti Road, the main part of the subdivision will almost certainly burn.  They will already have lost lots of homes.

From the south, the main line of defense is Hwy 120, then Pine Mountain Drive and Rock Canyon Way.   If they are defending to the south from Rock Canyon Way, a hugely significant number of homes has already burned.

On the east is the Stanislaus National Forest, a camp for physically challenged kids, a small community of manufactured homes,  and several ranches/ranchettes, etc. The forest butts up against state land on our side, against the National Park on another.  Net result?  We have lots of fire response -- the feds in the Park and in the Forest (Dept of Interior vs. Dept of Agriculture), CalFire on state land (even when it is not considered a state lands fire), and our local fire departments, many of which operate under CalFire management.  This does assume that our crews are at home, and not in Idaho or elsewhere fighting someone else's fires.

Other local government jurisdictions pitch in as well.  I am certain that the City of San Francisco has all willing employees in the fire camps and on the lines with heavy equipment, dealing with power lines, and driving.  Yes, driving.  Most of the fire management teams in large fires come from elsewhere and don't know the local roads.  Our Hetchy folk are intimately familiar with those back-country roads.  Even I, who spent far less time in the woods that most of the field crews, know the back country roads better than most fire managers, even those from Sonora ... which is how I found myself working a computer and mapping in the command center for the last fire before I retired.   I know the City paid thousands of dollars in overtime pay (probably hundreds of thousands) to their employees who were out there protecting City property and making the job easier for fire crews.  It's a small community.  Everyone pitches in.

Pray for the communities affected all across the US.  Pray for the firefighters -- we cannot afford to lose another Hotshot Crew, or anyone else.  Pray that some of the rain that is so unwelcome in the eastern US moves over and deposits itself west of the Rockies.  Pray that the rain does not bring lightning with it.

Just pray ...