Category Archives: Fire Protection News

California Wildfires: Homes Burn in San Bernardino and Strong Winds Threaten to Stoke Other Blazes | Corona, CA

By Madeline Holcombe, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Jason Hanna, CNN

Updated 1:37 PM ET, Thu October 31, 2019

(CNN)Firefighters are trying to contain a wildfire that raced into part of San Bernardino in Southern California and engulfed a few homes overnight, and officials are urging more than 1,000 people to stay away while the battle goes on Thursday morning.

The Hillside Fire — which started sometime after midnight in the hills above San Bernardino — quickly consumed about 200 acres, officials said, and is one of at least 10 active wildfires in a state plagued by them in recent weeks.

Strong winds Thursday threaten to stoke the flames further. With gusts stronger than 50 mph expected in some areas, more than 17 million people in Southern California are under red flag warnings — meaning wind, humidity and other conditions are ripe for fires.

In northern San Bernardino, wind-driven flames moved from the hills and destroyed or damaged six homes and two other buildings by 7:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. ET), San Bernardino County Fire Chief Don Trapp said.

Authorities rushed to alert residents as the flames swept into some neighborhoods overnight, stunning residents who’d been sleeping. No injuries have been reported.

Julien Cooper, 53, and his father were sleeping in Cooper’s San Bernardino home when he heard his phone ringing. He woke up and smelled smoke.

“Ten seconds later, I hear the doorbell and I already know what it is since we had a fire a week ago,” he told CNN. “It was the neighbor saying that there was a fire in the field.”

Cooper grabbed his dad and his dog, crossed the street to help the neighbor’s elderly mother evacuate and met up with a relative at a McDonald’s. Minutes later he returned home and grabbed some valuables — and his neighbor’s home was on fire.

Cooper took video of the neighbor’s house engulfed in flames. His nephew Henri Moser, who lives in Maine, shared it on Twitter. Cooper said he heard firefighters say they’d try to save his house, which had barely survived a wildfire 39 years earlier.

490 homes in San Bernardino evacuated

By mid-morning Thursday, firefighters had stopped the flames in at least one neighborhood where a home burned to the foundation, video from CNN affiliate KTLA showed. But fire was burning elsewhere near the city.

“This fire moves so fast that it’s imperative that people ‘evacuate when we ask them to,” San Bernardino County Fire Deputy Chief Kathleen Opliger said.

“It’s not a safe place to be.”

Evacuations have been ordered for about 490 homes in northern San Bernardino, accounting for about 1,300 people, the county fire department said. Hundreds of firefighters were there, trying to contain the flames, San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Chris Prater said.

The fire was a few miles away from Cal State San Bernardino, which was closed Thursday because the regional utility intentionally cut power as a precaution, hoping to prevent fires in the red-flag conditions. The campus lost power at 3:20 a.m. Thursday.

Just to the southeast, firefighters also were battling a blaze that erupted Thursday morning in Riverside County’s Jurupa Valley, prompting evacuations. With county fire officials reporting three homes there destroyed, workers at a pet adoption center prepared evacuations as flames licked nearby brush, an employee told KTLA.

Fires in the Los Angeles area

Thursday’s winds will be of no help to Los Angeles-area firefighters, who are battling several blazes.

The Getty Fire in Los Angeles, which began Monday, is threatening more than 7,000 homes, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Most evacuations have been lifted, and the blaze is 39% contained.

And about 40 miles northwest of the city, the Easy Fire broke out in Simi Valley Wednesday. Wind gusts of hurricane force — at least 74 mph — were reported at a weather station about seven miles north of Simi Valley.

The Easy Fire quickly consumed more than 1,600 acres in Ventura County and threatened 6,500 homes, officials said. The fire forced school closures and mandatory evacuations of about 30,000 people in Simi Valley, officials said. Three firefighters have been hurt.

Those evacuations included the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the former President and his wife, Nancy, are buried. The facility appeared safe by Wednesday evening after firefighters responded.

The state has secured grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fight several fires, including the Easy Fire and the blazes in San Bernadino and Riverside County, the governor’s office said. The grants allow affected local and state and agencies to apply for a 75% reimbursement of eligible fire suppression costs.

Power companies may be responsible for fires

The Simi Valley wildfire started near a Southern California Edison sub-transmission line, the power company said, adding that it has filed a report with the state Public Utilities Commission.

“SCE is conducting a review into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and will cooperate with all investigations into the origin and cause of the fire,” the company said in a statement.

The company said Tuesday that its equipment likely also contributed to the Woolsey Fire last November. The fire became one of the most destructive in the state, according to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, killing three people and destroying more than 1,600 structures.

In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) filed three reports with the California Public Utility Commission Wednesday indicating that its equipment may be involved in the start of three fires, according to officials.

Bill Johnson, CEO and President of PG&E Corp., told media the company has contacted the state about reports of videos possibly showing sparking powerlines at the Bethel Island and Oakley fires.

A third report was then filed linking its equipment to a fire in Milpitas, California.

“Troublemen observed wire down. They observed two houses, two cars, and a shed damaged by the fire. An on-site Milpitas Fire Department Investigator informed the troubleman that he was looking at the downed wire as a potential ignition source and collected a portion of the conductor into evidence,” PG&E said in a statement to CNN.

PG&E has been under scrutiny in recent years for the role its equipment played in several devastating fires across the state, including last year’s deadly Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. Over the last weeks, the utility has been enacting preventative shutoffs all over northern and central California.

California’s biggest fire is far from contained

North of the San Francisco Bay, the week-old Kincade Fire — the state’s largest active wildfire — has destroyed nearly 77,000 acres across Sonoma County and more than 260 structures, including more than 130 single-family homes, officials said.

It was about 60% contained as of Thursday morning. At the Sonoma County Airport, several airlines have canceled all flights for Thursday.

The Kincade Fire started October 23, but the cause is still under investigation.

The good news: Forecasters say winds in Northern California will weaken through Thursday, and more residents can go home.

CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Joe Sutton, Holly Yan, Ray Sanchez and Dave Hennen contributed to this report.

For more information about fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Vegetation Fire Burns More than 11 Acres in Paso Robles Riverbed

By Gabby Ferreira

June 30, 2019 12:20 PM, UPDATED JUNE 30, 2019 03:17 PM

A fire in Paso Robles burned about 11.5 acres of land on Saturday, according to the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services. The fire was reported in the area of North River Road at about 5 p.m., the agency said.

The wind-driven fire was burning in dense vegetation in the Salinas riverbed, and was difficult for firefighters to access, Emergency Services said. The area of North River Road between Union Road and River Oaks Drive was closed for about five hours as emergency crews worked to fight the fire.

A total of 62 firefighters from Paso Robles, Cal Fire, Camp Roberts, Templeton and Atascadero responded to the blaze, Emergency Services said.

Officials initially said the fire had burned about 6 acres, but that number was updated to 11.51 acres on Sunday morning, following more accurate mapping of the area, according to Emergency Services.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

This is the second fire to erupt in the Salinas riverbed this month: On June 10, a brush fire in the riverbed in the 100 block of Niblick Road forced authorities to close the Niblick Bridge until they could contain the fire.

For more information about fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Do You Know How to Work a Fire Extinguisher? | Corona, CA

fire extinguisher service

Installing fire extinguishers are essential in ensuring the safety of your business. Not only will is save any property damage a fire may bring, but it can even save lives. Unfortunately, just having the equipment there isn’t going to get the job done. You need to learn how to use a fire extinguisher in order to consider it a useful tool in an emergency.

Without the proper knowledge on how to use a fire extinguisher, your business is at risk of severe fire damage. Professional firefighters will emphasize that the lack of knowledge on fire extinguishers will lead to a lack of controlling and diminishing a fire. But not to worry – it isn’t a complicated issue, but one that needs instruction in order to protect themselves from fire. Everyone can get proper training on how to utilize the equipment. CJ Suppression offers onsite fire extinguisher training for any size company to ensure proper protocol in case of a fire related accident.

That’s right – we at CJ Suppression know that protecting yourselves, your loved ones and your property are important to you. We are here to not only give you step-by-step instructions, but we can also instruct your entire company as well. There is strength in numbers, so why not have everyone aware of fire safety so we can each look out for each other?

Avoid putting your business or company in danger – we have skilled experts that will work diligently and thoroughly with you on how to operate a fire extinguisher. With fire extinguisher training, you can rest assured that your business will be prepared for any fire event.

For more information about fire extinguishers, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fighting Fire with Fire: Ventura County Crews Use Controlled Burns to Prevent Wildfires | Corona, CA

Jeremy Childs, Ventura County Star Published 1:54 p.m. PT May 30, 2019 | Updated 10:05 a.m. PT May 31, 2019

A new study backs up what Ventura County firefighters already knew: A controlled blaze at a time and place of their choosing can prevent a disaster later. With that in mind, local firefighters became fire starters when they conducted their first controlled burn of the year to get rid of built-up vegetation that can fuel a brush blaze into a monster wildfire.

Controlled burns like Wednesday’s – which cleared at least seven acres of tall grass on a ranch in Hidden Valley – can also revitalize soil and give trainees the skills to battle wildfires. Yet despite their effectiveness, a study concluded not enough controlled burns are taking place in the western U.S. to keep wildfires from raging out of control.

The study by University of Idaho researcher Crystal A. Kolden laid the blame mostly on federal agencies that control large amounts of land in the West.

But Kolden conceded that the agencies’ resources are also consumed by firefighting instead of prevention and that they’re dealing with a public that’s more fearful of controlled burns in the western U.S. than elsewhere. Public concerns include excessive smoke and flames getting out of control.

Even if federal agencies seem reluctant to conduct controlled burns, state and local agencies aren’t, the study found.

“Whenever we have to opportunity to do them, we do them,” said Capt. Brian McGrath, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

He said his agency is committed to using controlled burns to prevent wildfires, a sentiment echoed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said the state has stepped up its prevention efforts after a series of major wildfire seasons that included Ventura County’s Thomas, Woolsey and Hill fires. “The idea behind it is to provide for the safety and protection of property and bring our forests and lands back to resiliency,” McLean said, noting that the recent drought has increased the amount of dry vegetation that fuels wildfires.

‘We have a lot of work ahead of us’

Tasked by Gov. Gavin Newsom with identifying the top 35 areas where fuel-reduction efforts are needed, Cal Fire has come up with about 90,000 acres of land to target. As of early May, Cal Fire had burned 10,518 acres this year, according to McLean, a number that’s grown in the past 30 days.

The state has increased funding for the efforts, letting Cal Fire dedicate six hand crews to thinning wildfire fuel, and has sent 110 National Guard troops to help for six months.

Cal Fire has also performed about 100,000 inspections of defensible spaces this year, and aims to complete 250,000 through December. Despite the doubled-down efforts, McLean cautioned against thinking the problem is taken care of with extra money and resources. “We have a lot of work ahead of us for quite some time,” he said.

The burden in California may be on Cal Fire and local agencies.

Kolden’s study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Fire, showed that in places where controlled burns have increased in the past two decades, they’ve mostly been conducted by state or local agencies. In the same period, controlled burns by federal agencies shrank from more than 90% of burns to less than 30%.

Kolden found that from 1998 to 2018, controlled burns grew in acreage by 5% per year throughout the U.S., although there was a 2.3% decrease in Southern California. Kolden found 70% of all controlled burns and 98% of the increase was in the southeastern U.S., which Kolden said could be why that region has seen fewer recent wildfire disasters than the western U.S.

‘There’s a lot to take into account’

While the Ventura County Fire Department may be sold on the idea, conducting controlled burns is easier said than done, according to McGrath. Choosing the location alone can be complicated. “You have to take into consideration the impact on wildlife, water runoff, the type of fuel,” McGrath said. “There’s a lot to take into account.”

The jurisdiction of the land can also play a huge role, as state or federal land is more highly regulated than county or privately-owned land.

“It’s a lot easier to do on private property,” McGrath said. “We’re under the same protocol as an agriculture company burning their crops.”

Even with a location picked out, unexpected factors such as high temperatures or gusty winds can delay controlled burns. McGrath said his agency works closely with the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District to determine the best days to perform burns.

But Mother Nature sometimes beats firefighters to the punch.

“We had a half dozen scheduled, and the Thomas Fire took them all out,” McGrath said.

Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing jeremy.childs@vcstar.com.

For more information about wildfire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Kick Off the Summer Safely | Corona, CA

There is nothing more enjoyable than a three-day weekend, unless it’s a three-day weekend in the warmer months. And the kickoff to these summertime festivities is Memorial Day weekend. And it doesn’t matter if you celebrate with a camping trip or just a simple BBQ at home, fun in the sun is the main objective. Unfortunately, with these hot days and warm nights comes outdoor activities and fires, so it is important to keep fire safety in mind while you are grilling those hot dogs and burgers. So, keep these tips in mind at your next summertime event and enjoy your long weekend safely:

Keep water close. Any time there is fire present, keeping a bucket of water within reach will save a lot of time and damages in your bonfire or nearby debris happens to catch on fire.

Carefully choose your location. If you plan on having a BBQ or a firepit, make sure to inspect the surrounding areas for anything that could possible catch on fire. Embers have a tendency to fly away, so a clear area is best.

Clean your grill. Grease fires are some of the worst fires and BBQ grills tend to have lots of grease build-up collecting in the crevices and grills. Make sure to keep your grills clean before every warm season.

Put out the flames. Make sure to extinguish all sources of fire before going to bed or leaving the area. Prevention is key to fire safety so throw some water or sand on top of your fiery fun so nothing happens to the area while you aren’t looking.

For more information about summer fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fire investigators Inspect Properties as Wildfire Season Nears | Corona, CA

By Dale Yurong Updated 2 hours ago

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Cal Fire crews and California National Guard troops continue work on a fuel reduction project in the Prather area. It’s designed to create fuel breaks and help keep foothill and mountain residents safe. But homeowners like Wayne Wilhelm are also doing their part. The 71-year-old knows how dangerous wildfires can be.

“I did not want my house to be one of those that get burnt like Paradise and things like that,” he said. “I feel like my house in a fire would probably survive the situation.”

Cal Fire inspectors have been out educating people on the need to clear 100 feet of defensible space around their home. Weeds, grass, even rubbish can pose a potential fire threat and allow flames to spread quickly.

“A lot of times with wildfires there’s high winds and there’s embers blown around by the fire,” said Seth Brown. “We want people to make their home hardened so an ember doesn’t get into a tight space or into a hole, an eave, into the attic.”

Tulare County Fire crews begin their inspections May 1, but Cal Fire inspectors have been visiting homeowners for a few months now.

Wilhelm’s fire season preparation is seen as ideal though he knows many people in the foothills have some catching up to do.

“I have a neighbor next door to me who has a lot of brush, a lot of stuff on his property,” he said. “I’ve commented to him he needs to clean it up even though he physically can’t do it himself, he can hire people to do it.”

Firefighters recommend you do outdoor property maintenance before 10 a.m. before it warms up and not do the work when it’s windy.

As we’ve seen in past years, rocks hitting metal blades can cause sparks which lead to a fire.

For more information about fire season preparations, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

PG&E Says Company’s Equipment May Have Ignited Camp Fire | Corona, CA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said Thursday the company believes it is “probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire.”

The Camp Fire ignited on Nov. 8 in remote Butte County and moved through the region. The wildfire claimed 85 lives and destroyed more than 14,000 homes within weeks.

PG&E released information Thursday as part of its 2018 fourth quarter earnings report.

The embattled utility company said it’s taking a $10.5 billion charge for claims connected to the Camp Fire in its fourth quarter earnings.

In a December letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E officials said an employee “observed fire in the vicinity” of one of the company’s towers and workers called 911 the morning of Nov. 8 — the day the wildfire ignited.

Inspectors later found a broken C-hook and a “flash mark” at that same tower, suggesting a power line broke free and made contact with the tower.

Separately, a PG&E employee on Nov. 9 found a “pole and other equipment was on the ground with bullets and bullet holes” at a different location near Flea Mountain.

On Nov. 12, an employee found downed wires and damaged and downed poles at Concow and Rim roads, the letter says.

The official cause of the blaze has not been determined. Several fire victims have filed lawsuits that blame PG&E’s equipment in sparking the wildfire.

No other details have been released.

Stay with KCRA for updates.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

For more information about fire prevention, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

The ABCs of Household Burn Prevention | Corona, CA

Accidental firesWe are often talking about how to prevent and protect yourself from fires, but there are times when it cannot be prevented, and we become injured. A burn can come in many forms, especially within a household; whether it be from a kitchen accident or just being too hasty taking a bite of that deliciously hot slice of pizza. This is why it is so important to be aware of your surroundings when using even the most modest of hazardous household items. And because February hosts Burn Awareness Week, let’s take a quick look at how you can protect yourself and your family from running into any of these common home-based burn threats:

Keep an eye on appliances such as irons, curling irons or hair dryers that can heat up quickly or stay warm after use. Avoid contact with your skin while in use and unplug these items once finished.

Cleansers, weed killers, and pool chemicals can cause burns because of the strong chemicals used. Keep these locked away/out of reach.

Make a habit of placing matches, gasoline and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach. And if you have little ones, avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.

When making electrical repairs, always turn off circuit breakers beforehand; avoid using electrical appliances while showering or wet; use child safety plugs in all outlets; keep electrical cords out of children’s reach.

When it comes to heating the home, create a safety zone to keep children and pets away from heating devices such as woodstoves, fireplaces, portable heaters, and furnaces.

For more information about burn prevention, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

The Paradise Fire Sets off Alarm Bells for Peninsula and Carmel Valley Residents | Corona, CA

By Pam Marino – Monterey Country Now

Shortly after the massive destruction and death toll of the Camp Fire in Paradise became known to the world in early November, the phones started ringing in Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams’ office. Nerves were rattled among people living on the Monterey Peninsula and in Carmel Valley, and they wanted to know what was being done to prevent a similar disaster in their neighborhoods.

For some, the 1987 Morse Fire in Pebble Beach – which consumed about 160 acres and 31 structures, doing $18 million in damage – still resonates. An investigation later blamed lots of dry fuel in the forest during a drought year, winds coming off the ocean and from the east and wood-shingled rooftops covered in pine needles.

That day in May 1987, the weather conditions were just right, says Monterey Fire Chief Gaudenz Panholzer. The Peninsula’s fog and mild weather generally help minimize the risk of wildfires as deadly as the Camp Fire or 2017 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Panholzer adds, “but once in awhile we have dry hot days. Those are the days we all sweat bullets as firefighters.”

Weather is one factor in the spread of wildfires. Another is the accumulation of dry brush, dead wood and nonnative plants, which the area has plenty of, Panholzer says. It’s what has residents worried, as one Carmel resident who lives along Pescadero Canyon told the Carmel City Council in January. With homes lining one side of the forested canyon across from Pebble Beach, he said, “We have the most to lose.”

“We need to manage the forest as a healthy forest,” Panholzer says. That means thinning, and sometimes leaving dead tree trunks behind to foster a healthy ecosystem among birds and bugs. He believes Peninsula cities in wooded areas like Carmel and Pacific Grove – which contract with Monterey FD for fire services – and Monterey are doing a good job of clearing their forested areas.

Carmel is looking at renting goats in the coming year to eat up dry grass and overgrown shrubs, as has been done in Pebble Beach, says City Administrator Chip Rerig. They cost between $1,500 and $2,000 an acre, for a minimum of five acres. Goats can reach steep areas humans can’t, plus they eat poison oak.

Fostering relationships among local emergency agencies has “stepped up,” Panholzer says, including with Cal Fire, Monterey Regional Fire Protection District and others. Representatives from a number of agencies met Jan. 24 to brainstorm evacuation plans. Adams hosts a meeting for the public to ask questions of fire officials from 6-8pm on Jan. 31 at Palo Corona Regional Park.

Ultimately, however, Panholzer says residents who live in wooded areas have to be prepared for the possibility, and have plans in place for evacuating with pets, photos and important documents.

 

Local Cal Fire Firefighter Embarks on Cross Country Bike Ride to Honor Fallen Colleague | Corona, CA

By Maria Arcega-Dunn

San Diego – A local Cal Fire firefighter embarked on a cross country bike ride to honor his friend – Escondido resident and Cal Fire firefighter Cory Iverson who died battling the Thomas Fire in 2017.

Cal Fire firefighter and engineer Thomas Pittman left early this morning from Imperial Beach for his “Ride into The Light” fundraiser. He plans to ride all the way to Jacksonville, Florida in an effort to raise money for a foundation benefiting the mental health of first responders created in his friend’s name.

Just after 630 this morning in Imperial Beach, Escondido resident and Cal Fire firefighter Thomas Pitman prepared for a cross country bike ride. The 2500-mile journey from San Diego all the way to Jacksonville, Florida will raise funds for a foundation created in honor of his friend and colleague Cory Iverson, who died in while fighting the 2017 Thomas Fire in Ventura County.

“It’s pretty amazing, the stuff I’ve seen over the past year in terms of honoring him have been mind-blowing, and this one takes the cake I think,” said wife of fallen firefighter Ashley Iverson.

She says the ride will help to raise money for the Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness which provides programs to help reduce suicide, PTSD and other mental and emotional stressors unique to first responders.

“The things that they see and do on a daily basis these are things that you and i don’t even want to imagine,” said Iverson.

Pitman’s goal is $2,426, one dollar for every mile he rides.  Money Iverson’s wife says will keep her husband’s name alive and help so many others.

“Thomas, even though he doesn’t know it right now, he’s helping a lot of people in doing this and that’s what gets me through,” said Iverson. “I underestimated what it would be at the year mark. It’s been quite a challenge for the last couple of months. But things like this give me hope.”

The ride is self-supported meaning Pitman won’t have anyone helping him along the way. He is expected to complete the ride on January 31.

Donations can be made to the “Ride into The Light” on the foundation’s website https://iversonfaa.org/ride/

For more information about fire suppression systems, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.