Logs: Few firefighters to stop big blaze | RecordCourier.com

Logs: Few firefighters to stop big blaze

Roberg Haug shows where the fire burned one of his trees.
Kurt Hildebrand |


1:11 p.m. First tones

1:14 p.m. Request for second alarm

1:15 p.m. Request for federal resources

1:16 p.m. Request for wildland fire engines

1:17 p.m. Request for aid from surrounding agencies

1:19 p.m. Request for second strike team of structure engines

1:22 p.m. Battalion 10, Chief 103 and Brush 7 arrive

1:36 p.m. Brush 2 arrives

1:37 p.m. Tender 10 arrives

1:39 p.m. Brush 4 arrives

1:45 p.m. Tender 5 arrives

1:47 p.m. Engine 12 arrives

1:50 p.m. Engine 7 arrives

2:09 p.m. Brush 54 arrives from Carson City

In the first hour after last weekend’s Frontage Fire’s was reported, there were fewer than 20 firefighters on scene with seven engines.

According to emergency dispatch logs, it was 11 minutes before the first engines arrived to find the Oct. 2 fire had grown to at least 25 acres.

The fire was first toned out at 1:11 p.m. Brush 7, a battalion chief and a deputy chief arrived at 1:22 p.m.

By that time, East Fork had already sought help with the fire from state and federal resources, and from surrounding agencies.

A timeline shows the second brush engine arrived at 1:36 p.m.

The first water tender didn’t arrive until a minute later, a critical addition, since there are no hydrants in the area.

By 2 p.m., there were only three brush trucks, two water tenders and two structure engines from East Fork.

The first engine from outside the district arrived at 2:09 p.m., according to the logs.

By 4:15 p.m., East Fork had 35 engines, 1 dozer, and 2 helicopters available from several Western Nevada agencies such as Carson City, Bureau of Land Management, Tahoe Douglas, Antelope Valley, Reno, Truckee Meadows, Storey, Lake Valley, Mono, Alpine, Incline, Nevada Division of Forestry and Smith Valley Fire.

Firefighters have generally been praised for their work preventing the fire from destroying Riverview Mobile Home Park, or claiming more than Stone’s Throw resident Dick Clark’s home and garages.

But Gardnerville resident Robert Haug said he had to put out his fence and backyard himself, while firefighters were on his neighbor’s property.

“They did not even warn me that my house was in the direct path of the fire, and they chose to let my house burn instead,” Haug, whose house was grazed by the flames, said.

Haug, 74, has lived in his home just north of Frontage Road for 25 years.

He said when he saw the fire coming, he loaded his horses into his trailer and took them across the highway.

When he returned the flames were climbing the hill behind his house and spreading to the fence and trees.

“Over 200 trees surrounding my house, the entire fence, my deck attached to my house and the gas main attached to my wall was destroyed,” he said. “One fireman was in the yard next to me watching me and chatting with the owner, watching me put out my fire and did nothing.”

Haug said it was three hours before Antelope Valley firefighters arrived to spray down places still smoldering.

Sue Haug said she was at a dog show and when she arrived firefighters were parked across Highway 395 from the neighborhood.

“They were just parked there,” she said.

She said smoke from the fire damaged valuable collectibles in her house.

The insurance claim for $80,000 won’t replace the 40-year-old trees in the Haugs’ yard, he said.

The fire was definitely started by human action, fire investigator Capt. Terry Taylor said.

“Our primary goal was to save as many homes as we could on the west side of Highway 395 while also keeping the fire limited to the west side of 395 out of the 350 homes that were threatened in Ruhenstroth,” Deputy Fire Chief Dave Fogerson. “We were very resource poor at the beginning of the incident, having to rely upon mutual aid providers who came from a ways away to help us. We had no aircraft and the federal resources have turned down for the end of the season giving us only two federal engines to assist.”