East Fork crew responds to California fires | RecordCourier.com

East Fork crew responds to California fires

Staff Reports

An East Fork Fire District engine and four firefighters have responded to the wildfires burning in Northern California.

Chief Tod Carlini said the wind-driven fires are similar to those in Oakland, Caughlin Ranch and Washoe Valley.

"And even our own Autumn Hills fire in 1996," he said. "(These fires) are almost impossible to stop and our very high-risk events for civilians and first responders, including law enforcement. As seen with the fires in California, residents and business impacted had only minutes to evacuate."

The East Fork crew is part of a strike team of Nevada and Lake Tahoe based local government resources. Each strike team consists of five like fire apparatus and a strike team leader. Twenty-one firefighters are assigned to the team including the leader. East Fork has several personnel who are specifically qualified for the strike team leader positions, including Battalion Chief Scott Fraser, who is now on his way as a replacement strike team leader for another deployed Nevada team.

East Fork's personnel and apparatus have been assigned to the Cascade incident near Grass Valley, which is now part of the 16,337-acre Wind Complex, which has claimed nearly 100 homes.

Carlini said crews work in shifts with time off in between in order to meet the required "work to rest" ratio. East Fork's responding personnel include Fire Capt. Tracy Connelly, engineer-operator Chad Sheldrew, and firefighter-paramedics Heidi Neilson and Alex Callahan. The crews have been deployed since Oct. 6.

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"These types of fires are the worst case situations that in many cases defy planning efforts and out-pace tactical strategies in minutes, Carlini said. "The devastation is so complete and fast."

Carlini reminded East Fork residents that the Sierra Front is not excluded from fires because wildfire season is now a year around proposition.

"We want people to recognize the risk factors depending on where they live. Those who live in the urban interface should plan ahead for a rapid and immediate evacuation."

Carlini said the district will provide evacuation presentations to community groups, home owner's association, and the general public upon request.

He recommended that people follow the five P's when preparing for an evacuation, People, Pets, Pills, Photos, and Papers.

Additionally, people are urged to put a 72 hour kit together. In Nevada, only the governor can make evacuations mandatory. If evacuations are recommended and individuals choose not to heed the recommendation, resources may not be available to provide assistance. Anyone interested in learning more about evacuation planning and preparation should contact the East Fork Fire Protection District. The District also highly recommends that individuals make sure they sign up for cell phone emergency notification, especially if they no longer have a land line to their home, which is becoming a more and more common situation. People can sign up by going to the following link: https://douglascounty.onthealert.com/Terms/Index/?ReturnUrl=%2f

East Fork has responded to two wildland fires in the month of October including the 1,700 acre Cutter Fire, south of Gardnerville and the 10 acre Stephanie Fire, in northern Douglas County. East Fork Fire Protection District provides service to 96 percent of Douglas County, including having some jurisdiction in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, firefighters are battling 22 large wildfires that have burned nearly 170,000 acres.