Tag Archives: seasonal fire safety

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Crippling California’s Efforts to Prevent Catastrophic Wildfires | Corona, CA

Kurtis Alexander March 25, 2020 Updated: March 25, 2020 9:04 a.m.

California’s ability to prepare for a dry and potentially dangerous fire season this year is being crippled as the coronavirus pandemic prompts fire agencies across the West to cancel or delay programs aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfire. From clearing out undergrowth in forests to training firefighters to tamp out flames, local, state and federal fire forces are trying to move forward within new social distancing guidelines, as well as with potentially sick employees, but that’s making their work harder and sometimes impossible to do.

The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees more than half of California’s wildlands, announced last week that it was suspending all prescribed burns, one of the most effective tools for increasing California’s resiliency to fire. The state’s Cal Fire agency, meanwhile, says it won’t halt its vegetation management activities — at least at this point — but it is rethinking how, when and where they’re done.

Spring fire preparations are considered vital to readying California for the warmer, drier summer and fall. Wildfire experts worry that disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak will not only increase the fire threat in the coming months but also sap momentum from a yearslong effort to make sure the state can weather the types of mega-fires recently seen in Butte County and Wine Country.

“If we don’t increase prescribed fire, restoration thinning and managed wildfire, we will never get out of our current forest problems,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley. “Suspending prescribed fire further puts us in a hole in terms of long-term activities to increase forest resilience to climate change, wildfire and drought.”

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the nation’s largest firefighting force, said they were halting their burn program indefinitely so that communities wouldn’t have to deal with smoke during new shelter-in-place orders as well as for the safety of employees. About 5,000 Forest Service firefighters work in California.

Those conducting prescribed burns routinely travel in groups to burn sites, often across long distances. The work itself is done in crews of up to 20 members. Health experts have advised people to stay at least 6 feet away from others to prevent spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, and the White House has issued guidelines discouraging gatherings of more than 10.

The suspension of the burn program comes as the federal government, in concert with states like California, was beginning to initiate new, aggressive goals for prescribed fire in response to deadly blazes like the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. Such infernos have helped put a spotlight on the perilous, overgrown condition of the nation’s forests, and burning off the thick brush and dead trees has proved a cost-effective solution.

“A lot of people were looking forward to this year being a ramping up of prescribed fire,” said Malcolm North, a professor of plant sciences at UC Davis who works with the U.S. Forest Service in the Sierra Nevada. “My concern now is that we’re going to be more reactive to fire than proactive.”

In response to the pandemic, the U.S. Forest Service has also called off in-person fire training through at least April 3 and canceled meetings where planning and risk assessment is done for fire season.

Like many businesses, the federal agency has moved many work discussions and training sessions online. However, surveying the landscape for fire danger and learning how to drive a fire engine are tough to do via Zoom.

“Training that cannot be done virtually will either be conducted in smaller groups or a waiver may be given until the training can be completed at a later date,” said Jonathan Groveman, spokesman for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, in a statement to The Chronicle.

The biggest challenge may lie ahead as making adjustments, including social distancing, only gets harder come fire season. It’s a reality that fire officials have just begun to ponder.

The big wildfires that burn in California typically draw hundreds, if not thousands, of firefighters into densely packed tent cities, where they work, eat and sleep together for weeks. Norovirusoutbreaks are common, and the more severe coronavirus would probably find ripe breeding grounds there.

If the virus continues to spread, as many medical experts expect, some firefighters might be too sick to make it to the front lines. Already, local fire departments have begun to report that some of their employees are infected by the virus or showing symptoms of the corresponding illness, COVID-19.

“The thing I worry about is firefighter health and wellness,” said Kelly Martin, the recently retired chief of Yosemite National Park’s fire program. “Our firefighting workforce is already stretched to the max in terms of the year-to-year response to these large fires where whole communities are being destroyed. The firefighters are already seeing a toll.”

Martin advises that residents in rural and wooded areas prepare for a less robust response from fire agencies this year. She encourages more home hardening for wildfire and clearing more vegetation around houses. “Don’t always count on the helicopters and the air tankers and the firefighters to be there,” she said.

In Grass Valley (Nevada County), a community in the Sierra foothills that has come together in recent years to address the area’s high fire risk, residents are trying to continue neighborhood fire-prevention work despite the obstacles posed by the coronavirus.

“We’re not going to have our April meeting, and we don’t know about May,” said Susan Rogers, 68, an organizing member of the Nevada County Coalition of Firewise Communities. “But we can put stuff on our website and link people to it. That’s how we’ll keep people updated for now.”

Officials at Cal Fire say they’re also continuing to help communities get prepared. They don’t plan to stop their house-to-house safety inspections, which they do thousands of each spring, nor curtail the work of crews that trim trees and cut fire breaks around homes.

Cal Fire’s academies for new and seasonal firefighters will go on as well. The agency expects to have close to 7,000 total firefighters at work during peak season. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but rest assured, we will respond accordingly,” said Scott McLean, spokesman for Cal Fire. “That is our job.”

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander

For more information about our services, 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.

Family Puts out Christmas Fire After Kid Sets Lawn Ablaze with Magnifying Glass | Corona, CA

Dec. 30, 2019, 8:52 PM PST / Source: TODAY

By Samantha Kubota

Almost every family that celebrates Christmas has a ridiculous story of how someone got into some shenanigans at some point — but it seems likely that only one Texas family can say that this December they accidentally set their lawn ablaze with a magnifying glass.

Nissa-Lynn Parson was not surprised when her 12-year-old Cayden asked for the magnifying glass for Christmas. She explained he loves reading and science, so she assumed that was why he wanted it. “It’s like a basketball player asking for basketball shoes,” she added.

The family donned their matching pajamas and opened presents on the big day. After the exchange, the kids went outside to try to burn a few holes into newspapers with Cayden’s gift. “We were watching it and everything,” Parson explained. “I was happy they were outside playing together! They weren’t playing video games and wanted to go outside.”

Her 15-year-old was holding a paper that caught fire and the wind blew it out of his hands, Parson said, and into the lawn.

“The kids ran inside and said ‘Mom, dad, we got a little bit of the grass on fire!’” she said. They rushed outside and within seconds, the whole lawn was ablaze.

“We’re all in Christmas pajamas, someone had a bucket of water, my husband turned the sprinklers on,” she said. “We got it contained and it wasn’t a problem.”

The family fire brigade was able to extinguish the blaze without calling the fire department. “It could’ve been a lot worse,” Parson said. “We were very blessed and thankful it wasn’t worse.” The fire even took out a small part of their neighbor’s lawn, but Parson said they took it well. “They were totally understanding and they kind of laughed because they also have kids,” she said.

She believes part of the reason her Facebook post went viral was because so many people can identify with it. “I think that’s one of the reasons this story took off, because so many people related,” she said. “(We’re lucky) it just turned out to be a Christmas memory and not a tragedy.”

Samantha Kubota is a digital journalist and editor for TODAY.com.

For more information about our services, 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.

Stay Safe this Holiday Season | Corona, CA

The holiday season is the time of year for family, friends and lots of fantastic festivities. We take a lot of pride in our homes and spend lots of time decorating them to the nines, but we also need to take some time to keep your home and everyone safe and sound. Accidents happen, but they can be prevented by keeping a few tips in mind as we prepare our homes for the celebrations:

Prepare for the worst. First thing’s first – make sure all of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are tested and running properly. It is also important that everyone in your home knows the fire escape plan, just in case something happens, and you need to exit quickly.

Pamper your pine. An average of 230 home fires that start with Christmas trees each year. If you have a live tree in your home, make sure you get a fresh one and water them daily so that it doesn’t dry out before the holidays are over. If it’s artificial, make sure there is a fire-resistant label.

Check your cords. When it comes to holiday décor, make sure to check all light strands and decorations for any frays or cord damage that may have happened over the year. Never connect more than three at a time and avoid overloading the outlets. Make sure to turn off any sort of holiday lighting before you leave the house or fall asleep.

Stay warm. As you plug in your heaters and spark your fireplaces, ensure that anything that can catch fire is at least three feet away. If you are lighting candles, snuff them out before you leave the room or head off to bed.

For more information about our services, 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.

Canyon Fire Burn Area Winter Preparedness | Corona, CA

When rainfall events are predicted, stay alert, and monitor information sources. Those living in this area should follow city information and think about what to do should they be asked to leave their homes.

Based off predicted rainfall amounts and the duration of time in which it will occur, the National Weather Service (NWS) may issue a Flash Flood Warning. Flash Flood Warnings will be given via television, radio and wireless emergency alerts if your device is compatible. In the event a Flash Flood Warning is issued for the Canyon Fire burn area, evacuation orders may be given. If you are told to evacuate, please adhere to these orders, as they are given to ensure your safety.

The City of Corona has a local notification system that will send telephone notifications to resident and business during an emergency. Only landlines are in the system. Register your cell phone number and select if you would like to receive an additional notification by email and/or text. Visit www.CoronaCA.gov/ENS to register!

Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

In preparation for upcoming storms, up to ten free pre-filled sandbags are available for Corona residents at Santana Park. There are also sandbags at Fire Station #5 at Canyon Crest for residents of the Canyon Fire burn area.

  • Santana Park: 598 Santana Way
  • Fire Station #5: 1200 Canyon Crest Drive

It is important to remember areas within and downslope of the Canyon Fire burned areas have an increased risk of erosion, flash flooding and debris flows. Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

For more information about our services, 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 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.

 

What Is a Fire Suppression System? | Corona, CA

fire extinguisher serviceIt seems like everywhere we look another fire has started to tear through the state. Fire season is one of the scariest times of year if you live in California. If order for our businesses to stay safe, we try to protect ourselves from any fire damage that may occur. To do this, we purchase and install plenty of fire extinguishers and alarms. But if you are installing a fire suppression system, it is important to know what you are dealing with in order to ensure everything and everyone is protected and safe if a fire were to occur. The first components to consider are active components:

  • In order for a suppression system to be effective, detection is key. Professional suppression will use numerous sensors and alarms to detect heat, smoke, and other signs of fire.
  • Once the alarm is triggered, traditional fire extinguishers may be able to extinguish a fire before the full suppression system is activated.
  • Once a fire is detected, the fire may be combatted with sprinkler systems (wet or dry) or chemical-based systems (gaseous systems that displace oxygen, foam systems, or other extinguishing agents).
  • Placement of fire hydrants and plumbing of pipes for fire fighters can help protect a business in case of fire.

Beyond active components, a properly designed system will incorporate passive components – such as firewalls, fire-stops, grease-ducts, and fire-rated materials to help slow the spread of fire, and limit exposure, and protect high risk materials from heat and flame sources. While these components will not necessarily stop a fire, they can help prevent or slow a fire to make containment easy.

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.

How to Help California Fire Victims | Corona, CA

By Julia Jacobs | Nov. 11, 2018

Three wildfires in California have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed thousands of homes. So far, dozens of people have been confirmed dead and hundreds more are missing.

Vast expanses of land have been scorched in Northern California by the Camp Fire — the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history — and in Southern California by the Woolsey and Hill Fires.

Here’s how you can help.

Remember to do your research on a charity’s reputation for using donations effectively. Charity Navigator is a good source to consult. Also, remember that sending money is almost always the most efficient way to help in a disaster, according to the Center for International Disaster Information, part of the United States Agency for International Development. If volunteers on the ground end up with a mountain of donated goods, they’ll have to spend time sorting through them rather than buying exactly what’s needed.

For nonprofits that are seeking donations, click here.

There are also multiple crowdfunding efforts for victims of the California fires. GoFundMe has organized a page that catalogs the relief efforts in Northern and Southern California. It includes links to donate to families who have lost their homes.

Google is collecting donations to help those affected by the wildfires in Southern California. It will funnel the donations to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which will distribute the money to local nonprofits.

Additionally, Airbnb has launched a program that asks people to open their homes to those affected by the fires. Until Nov. 29, the company is allowing residents to mark their homes as a place for evacuees and aid workers to stay for free.

For more information about how to help, 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 Extinguisher Training Is Important | Corona, CA

fire extinguisher serviceEveryone knows that if a fire is started, the first thing to do is grab a fire extinguisher. But do you know if everyone knows how to use it? Without the proper knowledge on how to use a fire extinguisher, your business is at risk of severe fire damage. Without proper training in the use of fire extinguishers, you can risk damage due to lack of control and ability to diminish a fire. It is important to seek fire training for your staff to ensure proper protocol in case of a fire-related accident. As a quick reference, when reaching for a fire extinguisher, attack the fire using the PASS Method:

Pull the pin. By pulling the pin, the operating lever should unlock and allow you to discharge the extinguisher.

Aim low. Pointing the extinguisher hose/nozzle at the base of the fire will make it dissipate quicker.

Squeeze the lever. This should discharge the extinguishing agent. Some extinguishers may have a button or other means of activation. Become familiar with your equipment prior to an emergency.

Sweep from side to side. While you are aiming at the base of the fire, you should sweep back and forth until the fire is extinguished. If it starts up again, start over and do it again.

Avoid putting your business or company in danger because the skilled experts of CJ Suppression will work diligently and thoroughly with you on how to operate a fire extinguisher. With fire extinguisher training your business will be prepared for any fire event.

For more information about fire extinguisher training, 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.