20200830 6pm Cal Fire news conference
1:53AM Aug 31, 2020
san mateo county
santa cruz county
Well, good evening. This is the 6pm press conference here on the CCU complex. My name is Jonathan Cox, deputy chief for Cal Fire San Mateo Santa Cruz unit and line officer here on the incident. As always, if you could mute your cell phones, please take any conversations away from the press conference area, and keep your masks on at all times, it would be greatly appreciated. We will have time after the end of the speakers to answer any questions you might have individually. Just a quick update this evening. As of 6pm, we have confirmed 84,760 acres have been consumed by this fire. The good news is we can also confirm that we're up to 37% containment on the incident. There are still over 6700 structures that are threatened by the fire. Unfortunately, new numbers this evening we can confirm 1281 structures have been destroyed by the incident of those 1281 structures. 20 are in San Mateo County. six of those single family residents in San Mateo County. In Santa Cruz County 1261 structures have been destroyed. 811 of those are single family residents. We have over 2100 firefighting personnel on the fire line now. And the incident is now continuing to go from the mitigation phase into that recovery phase as we increase the containment for an operations update, CAL FIRE Incident Management Team three operation Section Chief Mark run.
Good evening. So again, another great day of progress on our fire. In our North Zone, we have continued suppression activities to park area, fires continue to work its way down to our control lines. And in some areas, we've done some small burnout operations to help make that more effective and expedite that process so that we can get in and do some control efforts. In extinguishment in that area, so a lot of work there, we've been able to shift a lot of resources into that area, from the other parts of the fire, a lot of that hanfu work, very steep terrain, and also very heavily forested type area, a lot of fuels in that area. So a lot of work to be done in that to make it safe to put direct control line around that part of the fire. So for the coming days, a lot of work is going to be concentrated in that area. Moving down the highway, one corridor, again, it's looking a lot really good. We're doing a lot of mop up the highway one quarter is still closed as far as how we want Caltrans in there working along with utility companies continue to make that render that safe. And so that's been an ongoing process. But we want to make sure everything's safe before that opens up. Could be a dad before it's been repopulate now for a good day. So people are kind of getting their lives back to normal in that area. And we're continuing to do patrol and mop up the surrounding areas. There Southern in the fires looking really good. Got that buttoned up and continue on Up, moving up the highway nine corridor can be felt and pre populated and we're continue to mop up around there, and then we are repopulated certain areas up into the Ben Lomond community. And we have line control line up all the way past community of Boulder Creek. And we're continue to improve that line to mapa aggressive Baba, we are having a lot of roll out of materials, which means the burn materials is very steep. And he with our control lines, rolls down into and then over our control lines. So with the heavy patrol moppet going on there, they're picking that stuff up with the population, just repopulating in those areas. We're seeing a lot of smokes are getting calls for service. We've expected that we know that's going to happen. As the weather gets hotter and drier and talking with our inside meteorologist. That's going to happen mid to late week, we're going to see the wind change to a northerly push. We're going to see hotter, drier conditions and with that we are going to see a significant increase Those nuisance smokes, which will cause a significant call of service for us. So even though we're aggressively mopping that up, these things are going to pop up with this type of fuel, this force type area heavy, we're going to continue to see that so we're going to be very aggressive in our mop up and, and be prepared for those calls of service that we're going to get continuously for the coming time. The Commedia Vani. Dude, again, a lot of hard work in there. And we still have a lot of work to do. The utility companies are in there aggressively getting their infrastructure put back in place, our road groups are going in clearing the roads, we still have that problem. And we will have the problem of faraway countries that are coming down and causing a safety concern not only to our personnel, but potential public that may be in those areas. And that again, that's why we have those areas still evacuated because it is still very dangerous there, along with the ash pits from the fire that's been burning for over the period of the past week and a half or so. And again, we're trying to render render those safe so that when we do give the population back end, that it's as safe as it possibly can be. Whether again we had to have you brain layer, which did not allow our aircraft to fly like as much as we'd like it to. But they were able to fly. In the afternoon times, we had a lot of missions that they flew for us. And they dropped as of right now about an hour ago, about 55,000 gallons of water. That was good we had earlier in the week, but it's it's an improvement from what we've been seeing the past few days. And as the weather continues to get better, we have better air for aircraft to fly. We're going to get more of those missions in so that they can take care of those internal hotspots where our crews can't reach and then more importantly to support our ground crews that are on the ground in their mission to extinguish this fire so we get another day closer to success. And our folks are calculi and Harley are working hard to accomplish that mission. Thank you.
Speaking next on the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office is actually keen
Alright, so every day that we can come up here and say that we were able to bring people back home is a good day for us. So luckily we can say today that we did bring some of the community of Ben Lomond home. Also other areas of Felton and Zion T. And we're continuing to reevaluate the zones on a daily basis and want to make sure that zone is completely safe before we bring people back in there. As far as calls go, we received five suspicious circumstances and one welfare check over the past day and last night. And we are still just at one missing persons case that our detectives are still working on. As far as staffing we had 53 deputies and officers patrolling those evacuated zones and also the newly repopulated zones today, and we're looking at 60 plus deputies and officers tonight. One last thing I want to address is somebody have expressed concerns about the burned areas and homeowners who lost their homes in this fire are worried that other people might be able to get back up there to sift through their things before they're able to and we want to make sure you know that's not going to happen. We're going to have deputies and officers up there patrolling those areas, making sure anyone that isn't supposed to be up there, isn't up there. And we just want people to know that. We're going to continue to be here until this is over with. Thank you.
Speaking next from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is Lieutenant del Porto.
Good evening, just a few things for San Mateo County.
We're continuing our safety and security checks. In our coastal communities. We have 36 people patrolling the affected areas. I'd also like to remind people who do not live or work on the south San Mateo County to please avoid the area. We're trying to keep the roads clear for emergency personnel and utility vehicles who are repairing the roads and trying to repair our infrastructure. So we would appreciate that.
That's all I have. Thank you.
Speaking Next, on behalf of all the unified incident commanders here on the incident is CAL FIRE Incident Management Team three ICBC.
Good evening. Obviously, each day we continue to progress in and take several steps forward in the mitigation of this incident. Over the coming weeks, there's going to be lots of smoke production in different areas that have burned. It's well interior. Our firefighters currently are engaged on the perimeter, aggressively mopping those areas up so we can safely get the majority of folks back home or since possible. With that said today, we brought in nearly 300 men and women from the California National Guard to bolster the firefighting efforts and the containment efforts going on on this incident. They're going to be deployed over the next three weeks with us and working diligently to ensure that we secure our lines and make it safe for everyone out there to return home. Obviously, when we move through the recovery process, the counties both in San Mateo and Santa Cruz are going to be actively involved in ensuring the roadways are clear, and ensuring the infrastructure is improved and maintained to get phones folks back at home. And there's going to be more information here shortly by the next speaker related to a lot of that and the steps that they can do moving forward from this.
Speaking next on behalf of the CAL FIRE San Mateo Santa Cruz unit is unit chief Ian Larkin.
Good evening. As you as you heard tonight, another good day, each day, every little win that we get is a measurement of success on trying to mitigate this incident. As you heard our containment went up, we're starting to get residents back into their homes and back to some sort of normalcy. With that, you heard that you know, there are going to be smokes in and around the control lines. So people need to be village vigilant about that we're gonna have resources in there, as it was stated, making sure that those are contained mopped up appropriately, and that those situations are mitigated. I just do want to remind everybody that we are still very early in our fire season. It's just the end of August. We're typically just getting into what we consider our normal fire season or our window of opportunity for having a fire events of this magnitude that we just had, basically, from September into mid October. So I still want to remind people to be vigilant. As we complete this, this incident and get it mitigated, that we still have that potential. So be vigilant for those that are in in the affected fire areas, you know, we do have weather coming in this next week. So just be ready to go. As we said, you know, make sure you've got your things in order your your, your bags packed just in the event that we do have a either a flare up on this or a new event occur somewhere in the the area or within the unit. So just want to make sure everybody's a vigilant on that and listen to the reports. If you haven't, go to the netcom or the Santa Cruz regional 911 and register for your code red subscription so that you can get activated in those events that reverse 911 needs to be implemented. The other thing I want to just mention today, I had an opportunity to go to the Resource Recovery Center, which you're going to hear more about. It was a nice surprise to see how many folks were out there. Taking advantage of getting a head start, even though they may not know their structures have been damaged or destroyed, or if it has been destroyed, they're they're seeking assistance in that recovery process and starting to move forward to make sure that they have what's available to them. As far as resources moving past this, so I can't stress enough that those are so out there. be very vigilant in your surroundings of the trees or, you know, some of the areas are 15 days into fire impaction and are very dangerous, and that can come down without any warning. So be safe out there and we'll continue to work for the citizens to get this mitigated.
Our final speaker this evening with some important information about the recovery process from the Santa Cruz County EEOC is Jason hoppin.
Thank you. As Chief Larkin said our recovery Resource Center is going strong I would encourage anyone that was impacted by the fire to go down there and see the services that are available. It's at the Kaiser Arena in downtown Santa Cruz. It's open 11 to seven every day. If you can't make it down there, we've we've tried to put together a virtual Recovery Center, just go to Santa Cruz county.us and look for the fire recovery tab. And you'll access a bunch of resources right there. And if neither of those work for you a good place to start is just go to disaster assistance. gov and fill in your information and see what they can do for you. That's the Themis website. A couple of notes as repopulation has really rolled out in full swing here, we've really seen a drop in our shelter population. So beginning on Tuesday, we're gonna start to consolidate some of those operations. And we will begin winding down on Tuesday, the Congregational Church and So Cal Twin Lakes church coastlands Church and the Santa Cruz civic. harbor High School, the Seventh Day Adventists the fairgrounds out in watsonville Cabrini And symptoms will remain open. But we will wind down those four sites and consolidate them. A couple other notes our road crews are in the fire zone. They're doing ongoing assessments of China grade Alba road Bear Creek and Swanton. There's debris throughout the zone. So they're trying to make sure that the utility trucks and get through Cal Fire crews and get through. And we're already working with contractors on Swan road. So work will begin this week on a temporary bridge replacement over a mill creek and there's also three culverts that need to be replaced. So we're hoping to get that road passable for crews in the not too distant future. They're also doing tree assessments. There's a lot of trees in there right away that need to come down for the safety of motorists once they open those areas. And we have we have a total of three crews out there doing that work. Also another note, we're going to begin Property Inspections are building departments going to be out there and we'll start that process this week. We have not seen something of this scale. So I I have no idea how long that's gonna take yet. Well, no more as this rolls out, we'll provide more information when we know more information, and then just a couple of notes for the people because we're starting to repopulate closer to the fire zone. You know, if you've lost power for any length of time, and you're going back and looking at your refrigerator, just throw your food out if there's any question, if there's any doubt, throw it out, right. And also ash, that ash that is if you have Ash on your property that can actually be hazardous. So please don't use a leaf blower to blow it around. If you need to vacuum it up. For some reason, make sure you're using a vacuum with the help of filter. If your kid children's toys have been outside, wipe them down. Try not to get it on your skin. It can just be it can actually have a bad effect for you. Thank you.
All right. With that we're happy to answer any questions.
Is I understand this is going to be one of your last evening press
conferences is that
Yes, the question was related to the frequency of the press conferences. We plan on doing another press conference in 24 hours from now at 6pm. Tomorrow and then on an as needed basis after that.
So questions related to the areas east of highway nine on Bear Creek Road? Chief runoff, if you have any insights on that?
Yes, we're we're continually evaluating that every day we have a meeting with our law enforcement partners. And during that meeting, we give our input to the law enforcement as far as what we feel comfortable opening up for the safety of the public as well as the safety of our first responders. Some of that is a little problematic based on some of the road systems because sometimes when we do open up a certain road system at LAUSD access by nature of the road systems throughout the rest of the fire, which can inhibit the effectiveness of our crews in continuing to extinguish and suppress the fire. So we look at that very carefully, we do not take that lightly because folks are have been out of their homes for a week plus, and we want to get them repopulate as soon as possible. But we have to do a bit of a balancing act with that. So we're not intentionally trying to take, you know, keep people out for long periods of time. It's just that as we are aggressively doing our mop up and making rendering safe, then we are going to suggest and recommend to our law enforcement partners, what we feel comfortable opening and then ultimately, it's up to the sheriff's office in this case, to make the final decision, but we do that as a collective group. And then we we make sure we message that out appropriately so that people are informed appropriately. And and it's just one team moving together to to make that happen. So for that particular road I can't give you an exact date. I will tell you that it is something on our radar. And we are looking at that carefully. And you'll see the next probably 48 hours a few more. repopulation is occur. Right now we've been very aggressive and repopulating. But we want to do it also in a controlled fashion. So it's not chaotic, and it says, efficient and effective for not only us, but also for the population to get back home and get their lives back to normal. So it is on our radar. We are working towards it and it is something that you will probably see in the near future. Do we have to wait for pg&e and water before their evacuation orders lifted? So in relation to do we have to wait for the utility companies before that end? Yes, we have as part of that process, a very thorough process in that that there has to be signatories before we repopulate. And part of that is the fact that we make sure that when they repopulate into those areas, they have power, they have water, they have the necessary utilities and so forth in place so that they're not coming home. It's dark and they don't have power and all that stuff. They've already been in a situation where they've been out of their homes and it's uncomfortable and so forth. We want to make that return as comfortable as possible for those people returning.
You also recommend that people change their
Yeah, I think that what what you've experienced is the environment has been filled with a lot of particulate matter, some of that natural particulate matter and some of that because of the nature of burning a lot of structures. There's a lot of stuff so to speak in the air, some of it could be harmful to health. And so just to be on the safe side, anything any sort of, I would say filters in your age HVAC systems for your homes, I would replace anything and like vehicles, anything that filters air, I would recommend that they take the appropriate actions replace that and and like has already been mentioned as far as when you are removing Any ash and so forth, that you keep that in mind is that you don't aerosolize that, put it up in the air where you're, you're breathing it, use any sort of masks, and nowadays we're masks for everything else. So it's probably a good time to be wearing it anyway. And make sure that that's as safe as possible because there, there is a lot of stuff that was put in the atmosphere that we really don't know what exactly it was. And it is just the nature of these kind of incidents.
Can you elaborate?
Sure. The question was related to the water alerts that have been issued by the water district. What was the specific zoning specifically, you're looking for that?
Just maybe the severity this, the areas that are affected, how long it's expected to affect those areas?
Sure, I actually asked that. We Go back and speak to them. Specifically, I don't want to speak for them or misspeak for them so we can definitely get you someone to contact to get that information.
Also, one more question. What can residents expect that are going back to their neighborhoods? As far as their their properties are concerned? I noticed that there's markings on the roads. What are those markings?
Yeah, so I know I can speak for the damage inspection team specifically. They put markings on the properties that they've inspected, so that when the other teams are in the area, they don't become redundant that there's some sort of physical indicator there. So that's the markers from the actual incident itself. Obviously, there's other utilities that use marking systems there may be county agencies that come through and use markings, so the people coming into the area may see a variety of different markings in the area, all with different specific purposes for different utilities and infrastructure and damage inspection teams. To
people showing their
support online, what would you say to those people?
Yeah, you know, I think one of the biggest things for a firefighter coming off the line after a 24 hour shift, to see those signs really makes all the difference for them to see someone saying thank you or a kid waving a flag or a sign. So from from us, it's a huge kind of motivator to keep going and continue the hard work in the community. All right, everybody up here is available for questions. After this. Just reminder, we will have our last press conference scheduled for tomorrow at 6pm. Just want to say thank you for everyone for joining us. And this concludes the sixth round press conference.