2:31AM Aug 28, 2020
san mateo county
Well welcome to the 6pm press conference here on the CCU complex. My name is Jonathan Cox deputy chief for Cal Fire San Mateo Santa Cruz unit in line officer here on the incident. As always, if you could mute your telephones take any conversations outside the press conference area, as well as keep your masks on at all times. As usual, we will have time for questions and answers with all of the speakers at the conclusion of the formal presentations. So we're on day 11. Here on the incident, the CCU complex, we can confirm this afternoon that we have burned or 81,479 acres have burned. And obviously the number of acres burned is slowly increasing. Now. We can also confirm 24% containment, which is up from this morning. However, we still have 13,305 structures that remain threatened this evening, we can To confirm that 746 structures have been destroyed in this incident. Of those 746 11 are in San Mateo County and 735 of those are in Santa Cruz County. Our damage inspection team to have completed about 65% of the total fire area for their inspections. Without there are websites with damage information available for the public both in Santa Cruz County through the county website and San Mateo County through their their county website. With that they're still over 50,000 people who are evacuated throughout the area. We have good news and we broke the 2000 mark for fire personnel assigned to the incident we have 2019 personnel assigned. And today we saw the beginning of repopulation occur in both the Scotts Valley area as well as a little Honda and pescadero area
in San Mateo County.
The only last notable piece for all this is we did see another structure that was destroyed today not because of fire, but because of the dangers that are still out there. When a tree fell on it. With that for a situation update from the operations. I'll hand it over to Cal Fire IMT three Operations Section Chief Mark.
Good evening. So we had another good productive day of our fire suppression efforts. We're seeing a change or the beginning of change for weather. Today most of the morning was covered in a deep green layer that prevented us from flying our aircraft. But it also in turn gave us a lot of help on the ground, bringing some of the moisture up so helped mitigate some of the the fire spread and slow that quite a bit. But as it heated up today and warmed up we did see a little bit increase in the fire activity. I was able to do a reconnaissance flight first one I've been able to do on this fire so far because of conditions. Were not allowing me to do so before but it was good because I got to get a good aerial view. See the whole part of the fire and, and for the most part looking looking good. We do have some challenging areas that we're going to be addressing and adjust our strategy accordingly. Just moving around the the top of the fire this golf Keeler area is still looking really good. That's holding very well, very few smokes in that at all. And we do have a protective control effort in that area, over in Division echo over in this area that butanna Park, we do have control lines in place. This was probably one of the most accurate parts of the fire and with the wind flow was probably the most smokiest in here. But where we've had this creeping down, it was definitely more active. But nothing significant. Just doing what we wanted to do overall. Getting down to our control lines where we could take good control of the fire and then fit within our strategy. So we've been waiting, waiting waiting for it, but what's good about this push, it's getting us to where we want to be so hopefully that will expedite been able to jump on that and we have resources in there. And we were able to put additional resources in there today to help with that effort. So that's really going well. As Chief Cox mentioned, we we are seeing some other challenges beyond the fire in the area in the butanna colony in the fact that there are a lot of fire damaged and weakened trees. And those are starting to drop in the fall. And as you said, One destroyed a structure today, we started putting some of our specialists in there to assess and start mitigating that issue. It's going to be a challenge, it's going to be a lot of work in there. So that's yet another ancillary challenge of this incident that we're gonna have to start addressing and create a strategy to to take care of that. That issue. Moving down the coast, a lot of a lot of this fire has mitigated or is is completely out extinguished. I'd say out of the most destruction that I've seen of the fire beyond the structure loss as far as to the vegetation was amazingly here on the coastal area, more flashy fields and so forth but it did very noticeable once you drive a high one, highway one and look up and definitely from the air you can see quite a bit of destruction to that area of the vegetation. Moving down towards Davenport, it's looking really good a couple drainage is there that we're going to start addressing get very aggressive with we haven't had the resources and we're starting to get the resources in such as the hand crews which are going to be perfect for our situation there. And we'll be putting them to work and taking care of that in the next couple days. Our lines holding still to the south very well that's that was almost a void of any sort of significant smokes. There are some smokes very prevalent, but they're well well interior not only here but throughout the other parts of the fire deeper in the fire. From a distance you're seeing significant smoke but they're deep into the burn, and it's just some drainages that are burning out. There's a lot of the initial push of the fire, leaving what we call fingers or islands. forth. Now, the fires burning back onto itself with the changing of winds, and it's starting to burn those those pockets out. Totally normal. We see that on fires all the time. So when you do see some of that smoke a lot of that that's what it is. And that's going to continue to do so for the next few days, especially as the weather gets warmer, drier and we have some more wind, our burn operation that that went around the backside of film. That's if you can see from our vantage point here, or from the Scotts Valley area that's been repopulated, they'll see that smoke, not to worry that's, that's from our operation. And again, a large chunk of ground that is slowly burning out doing exactly what we want it to do. It's just going to be there for a little bit and and you will be visible but what that does is puts a nice, solid ring around the community Felton and
protect it for him for many other advancements. So we're very happy with the results of that burn operation. Moving up the highway nine quarter looks really Really good. threw up and lemon, Brookdale there, you'll see if you go how many nights some where the fire had burned down a number of days ago, slowly burn down stopped at highway nine. So when you see that, that that was just part of the strategy of letting that burn down to their control points, which at that point is the highway. But those communities all are looking very very good. Boulder Creek fires really far up on the ridge away from the community pass the golf course. So we've got control lines that are in there and are being improved every every day. And we're feeling very comfortable with the protection of that but there is a lot of work there because there are a lot of structures tucked in and among the one of the drainage is deep within that that we have to go and cut around. So it's a very tedious labor intensive process. That will be ongoing. Bunny down over all the good continuing work within there again, long continuous a tedious process because of all the different homes scattered throughout all the areas Weren't burned. And it wasn't a very continuous burn line. So we have to go in and actually cut that out with with our crews to put a nice control line in there so it renders that area safe. Our road crews going in on only highway 236. But all the other roads throughout are doing a fantastic job getting us so that we get deeper in. So the damaged dispatch inspection teams can do their job to to inspect those areas for the utility companies to get in start doing their hard work so they can start bringing the infrastructure back up to par. And so that's an ongoing and will be an ongoing effort. A lot of downed trees and even though we go through an area and clear it we tend to have to go back and redo it because if our weakened tree that's been burning for days or almost a week now decides to come down after the fact so are folks are having to really be heads up because that is a significant safety concern this far into the event. And then for our crews that are opening up the roadways same same challenge. As far as our air for our Air Force in our area efforts, again, we've got about six water dropping helicopters. Those been in play once the weather cleared up, and that's been later this afternoon. And they've been dropping water continuously, especially on the butanna. Park area. That's been where the majority of the water droppings been today. When I was up on my recon saw them actively working, they were dumping all kinds of water don't have the latest totals yet. As far as the day they're still flying, they still have a few hours of daylight to fly. But we won't take them out today, again to the weather as the weather that we're seeing as forecast new approach. We're going to get a lot more flight hours to be able to drop a lot more water and use that tool effectively throughout throughout the incident. Overall, like I said, it's looking really good. We're really moving the right direction. I know there's been questions about the National Guard we received yesterday, a couple of National Guard crews. They've been employed they've been working predominantly Down on the highway nine corner in those those headlines that we've been there so yet another tool in toolbox another resource that we're putting to work. And as I said, our numbers of resources that we've been getting have been trickling in, and we'll continue to do so as we move through this event. Thank you.
Speaking next one, a unified Incident Command agencies representing the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office is chief deputy clerk.
We had a good day today. And, you know, despite a lot of things that have gone on, today was a good day, especially for the folks that live in the Scotts Valley area. And the unincorporated area Scotts Valley got to go home today. And so those evacuation orders were lifted. For the area Scotts Valley and for the unincorporated area from Paradise Park, all the way south, I'm sorry, from Redwood, Redwood heights, all the way to paradise Park. And so there'll be there'll be continued good news on that front as we go through. out the days to come. And so I just want to preface that that I mentioned this last night that that's the strategy with repopulating these areas. We want to, we want to get you back home. And so, you know, today with Scotts Valley, and as we move closer to more fire affected areas, it could be just a little longer obviously, in the work that still has to be done in those areas. So over the coming days, as we go closer, I think I mentioned this last night, you know, data day to day really as we go towards Feldman and up highway nine. But there'll be continued good news on that front in terms of bringing people back back to their homes and getting them back in their own beds at night. And then I just ask for your patience as we get towards like the Boulder Creek and the and the Bonnie Dune area. If you've seen pictures on social media, there's a lot of damage in there. And so allowing pg&e and different utility companies and the roads to get repaired, it's going to take a little bit and so we want to get in those areas. We want to get you back as soon as possible. We have to do it in a way that it's safe for you. So when you come home, you know, you have water, and you have utilities and you have all the things you need to keep you safe. But that's what we're pushing for now. And that's what these guys they're working extremely hard at trying to get fixed is all that stuff is it goes deeper into those more heavily impacted areas. But like I said, day to day, I think we're going to have good news day to day as we kind of go go on from here and that's it. It's a very positive thing, especially if you've been displaced by this fire. In terms of other good news, no arrests or citations again, today. So we did have an interesting case. I'll talk about that here in just a minute. But in terms of numbers, today, we have 42 officers and deputies working this work in the evacuated area. Tonight we're going to have 5618 from our county, ATR I'm sorry, 18 from the sheriff's office 18 from in county, and then 20 mutual aid and so it's six people total again doing those security checks. And as I mentioned, you know as we start repopulating these areas, You know, that that I mentioned last night, you know, we're going to we're going to be here, we, you know, this is this is our community, we're going to make sure you're safe, we're going to make sure you're settled. And so I just want you to know that as people start
coming back home,
in terms of calls for service, five suspicious, suspicious persons calls we we went out to today, as well as seven welfare checks. In terms of missing people. That list of three, I think we were at this morning, we found all three of those people. So those three folks that I mentioned last night, those names, we found them, and they were they were okay. And so we did develop one new case today, but from what I'm getting from our detectives, it appears that that person is likely not a fire victim, again, it's just someone we're, you know, a concerned family member called, asked us to look into where they are. And so that's exactly what we're doing. And that's exactly what we did on the prior cases. And so, again, I did encourage people to continue to do that. And so we want to make sure that people are are all right, in terms of the interests the kind of an interesting event today so far, you know, callfire is doing a great job of By creating line clearing these areas and then doing mock up work to ensure that there's no continued fire threat in certain areas. And so today near the Boulder Creek Golf Course in 100 block of Lake drive, they were doing some mop up work there, there was an open toolbox and some firefighters noticed what appeared to be an explosive device looked like a pipe bomb, there was also some some other explosive type materials, and obviously concerning concern to them concerning to people that live in that area. And so we we dispatched our bomb team and we have investigators looking into it. And so right now our detectives are offering a search warrant to get into the home there this this toolbox was found near home. And so we're we're still continue to do further investigation with regards to that and who's responsible and all the questions you might you might think would come along with something like that. And then and then obviously making that toolbox and those devices safe. So that's what they're doing now up in Boulder Creek. And if we find somebody responsible Obviously, there's charges for, for manufacturing explosive device which this person could be potentially potentially charged with. So I just want to touch on repopulation again. So and just some things to think about again, as we start as people are able to start going home. One is to be vigilant. Again, we're going to be in these areas but when you go home, you know who's who should be in the neighborhood new should you see somebody that shouldn't be in a neighborhood, we want you to give us a call and let us check it out. And then again, you know, just because you're going back to an area doesn't necessarily mean that the fire threat is over. And so it's important to pay attention to social media, they are our social media and Cal fires website to ensure that you're getting the best information and staying abreast with what with any sort of changing fire hazard is kind of we go along and I said this again last night I continue to say it and you know know your zone, you know, as we repopulate areas Know the zone in which you live. And so as you see, you know, either press releases or press areas, I speak at these press conferences and tell you what areas to repopulate. That will go by zone. And so and again, you go to Cal fire's website, the incident factsheet for this incident, as well as our Facebook page, you'll see a map and go to your zone. If it's green, that means it's repopulated, you can go back home, if it's red, it's still under that same water. Another thing so there's lots of there's gonna be lots of emergency vehicles, especially for folks here in Scotts Valley. And then as areas we continue to repopulate, you're going to see people coming and going. And just, again, it's just a lie, I would ask just for your patience in that as, as you know, callfire and the other utility companies are
still doing their job.
And then And then lastly, so you know, where people may want to come as you know, people may want to come up in this area for a variety of different reasons. And what we're asking is that if you don't live here, we don't want you to come in here and so and the Reason being is because it just provides more traffic and provides more congestion. When what we want to do is systematically get people back to their homes and and still allow for you know, an efficient flow of traffic and that sort of thing for people that are working. So it's for residents only. If you don't have business here, we'd ask that you stay, stay where Stay where you are find a different location. That's all I got. Thank you.
Speaking next from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is Lieutenant Vince Padilla.
Good evening. First and foremost, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office wants to thank CAL FIRE, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol and all the law enforcement agencies and everyone assisting with the fire efforts. Without their efforts our repopulation would not be possible in our county. today at 12pm. We delivered some excellent news about repopulation in the areas of La Honda, San Gregorio and pescadero. And many of those evacuated in our county are now moving back home. And I want to go over again the areas that we reopened. They are pescadero Beach. That's good arrow Creek, County Park pescadero. area, San Gregorio, la Honda. Red Barn, and Langley Hill. rusting, rich, open space area. Sky londa Middleton track, Portola redwoods streets Park and Portola heights. Currently, we have four roadblock locations within those areas that reopened. They are as follows. We have highway one at Gaza's Creek cloverdale Road at butano cut off pescadero Creek Road at the Tonto cutoff pescadero Creek Road at burns Valley I'll be happy to say that since we reopened at 12 o'clock there have been no burglaries or no reports or calls for service for suspicious activity in these areas that we reopened. Additionally, we have more than 30 patrol units out in the area patrolling and we want to ensure to our residents, like chief Clark said is that we ensure a safe transition, but that we're out there, we will not tolerate burglary, looting or any of that. It is imperative that anybody that does not live in our county, and those areas that I just identified do not travel there. We need these roadways open so our people can get back safely to the residence. Lastly, we're going to go through the checklist again, but the evacuees obviously should check online to determine if their home is now accessible in our areas that I just described. Additionally, you can call 211 to learn if your address is included in this list. evacuees simply house and hotels prior to checking out again we want to make I'm sure that your area your home is in the area, so check to make sure before you check out other hotels. And for large animal assistance, please call Robin. Her phone number is 650-450-0516. And again, we are extremely pleased to provide good news to our residents and we'll continue to provide detailed information when it's available. And all of this information is listed on our social social media platforms. There is more work that needs to be done. We will let you know when these other areas not listen tonight will be reopened. Thank you very much.
On behalf of all of the unified incident commanders speaking next is CAL FIRE Incident Management Team three ICBC.
Good evening. Obviously over the last 24 hours, we've able to put over 20,000 people back into their homes That says a lot for the work. Not all the firefighters have gone out on the ground. We still got a lot of work to do ahead of us. Lots of smoke production today as the skies cored out the mainly marine layer subsided. And you saw what fresh air does to the fire itself. So we still got a lot of work ahead of us a lot of hotspots out there. Obviously, there's going to be some concerns about highway going real. There's a lot of debris coming down off the hillsides on the highway one that's over 100 years of infrastructure out there. And we're trying to clean it up in over 100 hours. So bear with us. We're working diligently to make those roadways safe with our cooperating agencies and our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety for the general public when we do reopen those roadways. Thank you.
final speaker this evening representing the CAL FIRE San Mateo Santa Cruz Ian is unit chief Larkin.
Today's a good day we make progress. And that's what we want to see every day is progress. And an opportunity to go out and drive around a little bit today and see a little bit more of the burned area. And it is a dangerous situation out there. We had several trees come down in the area that we were in. And you know, we have a lot of utilities down, including powerlines and communication lines. So the infrastructure repair is going to take some time. So as we were repopulating the areas that weren't affected by the fire, those areas that were affected by the fire are going to take some time for us to get, make it safe for everybody to get back in there. And make sure you have that vital resources available to you such as electricity and communications, like telephone and such. So just bear with us, please let us get out there and get that work done with our cooperators between law enforcement, fire, pg&e and all the other communications folks, there's A massive effort going forth right now to get the infrastructure back in place and get people back into their homes as quickly as quickly as possible. And once again for the repopulation area, that website that you can go to, or the link you can go to is SM co dot community dot zone Haven, that's SM co dot community dot zone Haven, and there'll be a map on there. And as those zones become eligible for repopulation, those zones will turn green. So that's where we're saying it's imperative to know your zone, you can actually zoom in on those areas and actually find the zone that you live in. It'll show the street layer, the closer you zoom in, so please refer to those in our social media platforms to find out the most updated information along with our fact sheets that are set out today. So thank you again
without happy to answer any questions you might have
already Gordon ktc otter Creek community radio, I have a kind of a multi part question. Are you able to elaborate a little bit more on the issues facing repopulating the San Lorenzo, the different communities in the San Fernando Valley? Well that require our we need to see that line turn black on the eastern flank of the of the fire. And is the process can involve, as far as notifications that involve using the code read system that was used to tell us evacuated
shares. The question was related to what to expect for repopulation in San Lorenzo Valley and how that the notifications might go out in the in the sheriff's office building
issues that are complicating returning to the different communities. Sure.
Yeah, so as I've said before, our plan and we've been going through this over the last couple days, is really comprehensive and really dependent upon the infrastructure improvements that need to take place to get people back home. Last night, I kind of gave like a little Little bit of a 70 Give me a, then I'm gonna catch both both parts. Your question there one has to do with repopulation and when I believe that's part of your question. The second is how am I going to know? So with regards to the first question, you know, last night I mentioned day or days for Scotts Valley that's dependent on a couple things and we repopulated Scotts Valley today. And as a so as I said, last night, as I said, Today, we're going to have continued good news as we go along. It's there's a lot of factors that go into determining which areas get repopulated but it's in a systematic fashion as we go from the least effective areas to the most effective, most effective, and so it's kind of a natural progression as we get closer to the fire closer to Felton of highway nine. And again, I mentioned you know, having continued patience for the community, Boulder Creek and I've heard about today some water issues in the town of Davenport. So these are and then obviously Bonnie doon being heavily affected. So these are things that have to get worked out. You know for people to get back home know where they have the services they need to be able to live safely in their own home and and obviously there's there's still there's still fire activity in Avante Dune area in some of those areas until it's completely put out. So there's, there's a lot going on but you're going to hear updates on this every day in terms of how do I know. And so what areas are repopulated and which ones aren't, I would say pay attention to our social media to our Facebook page to Cal Fire to Cal fires map, as you heard chief Larkin mentioned with regards to knowing your zone, and then you'll hear me talking about it. And so there's a number of different ways to be able to stay apprised of When can I go home and, and all of that. So I just say, just keep keep keep up to speed on those resources. And then and then hopefully we'll get you home as absolutely soon as possible.
As far as the line on that eastern flank of the fire is that going to need to be fully contained.
That's probably a better Question for from cheap rent.
Yeah, I wouldn't say that exactly that it has to be completely a black line on that, we're going to take areas of opportunity that we assess and feel that it's safe to put people into what's difficult is because of the valley, there's one side of the valley that currently is not affected by firing. And obviously the other side is it's very difficult in some ways to go and repopulate one part. So that we maintain the level of safety for our personnel that are working in there and the safety of the public. Because if you only populate one side, there's access to the other side. And that's it. That's a huge challenge for us and we understand the frustrations and in the anticipation of getting back that we don't take that lightly. So we're doing everything we can to establish good control lines, render it safe so that we can return everybody back in a timely fashion and in an organized fashion. Like I've said many times before, it's not it's not very clear cut in a very easy process because of where the homes and how they're situated on that western side of the valley. So the meticulous efforts of having to go and put line and cut line around all the different homes and so forth. That's takes time. And so we're trying to weigh that out the best we can. And once we get through an area that we've deemed safe, the line will hold and we'll be safe, then we will advise accordingly the sheriff's office and work collaboratively with them as we have throughout this entire process. Because it takes everybody to agree upon that and including to make sure that their infrastructures, their the utilities are in place, and so forth. So when a person returns home, it's totally safe, but they also have all the comforts to return to their normal life.
For you, at this point in the buyer, how often are we seeing
Right, so as far as actual spot fires, we're really not seeing that what what we're seeing is, is we're getting especially into the steeper terrain. And Case in point is that highway nine corridor or very, very steep terrain, we're seeing what's called roll out. So get on steep terrain, you have firm material. And as a firm material degrades, like a tree or stump or log, then it loosens up and then it rolls downhill into the green area. And then that fire ignites and runs back fortunately, as fire does appeal, and typically back into the burn itself. So for us from a control effort, it's not usually a terribly bad thing. But it's more of a nuisance until we can get our control lines in play. So what that does is it just creates this this more smoke and sometimes a challenge for us control effort wise Because we have to back our lines down to where they're gonna be effective where the rollout will roll over or line and where we don't want it. So that's the challenging part there, and that's what we're facing there. But again, one of the idiosyncrasies that make it a challenging firefight.
Yeah, so the question was, it was about the explosives that we found today.
in Boulder Creek this afternoon, near the golf course hundred block of Lake drive, you had CAL FIRE another firefighter, firefighters working in that area mopping up basically just making sure there's no no other little spot fires or what have you in that area, and in there close to homes, you know, as they do that. And so same is the case here where they were near home, and they may notice an open toolbox happened to look down and lo and behold, they're late. look like a pipe bomb with a fuse. Other types of explosive type material in it. And just looking at it, they became concerned saw it for what they thought it was. And then obviously called us and we want to, you know, make sure that that's safe that they're safe. And so that's what that's how we became involved. And then obviously our boss and our bomb team and our investigative
team up there to determine kind of more about that.
And then who's responsible for that?
We're I haven't gotten a report on that yet. But typically, what we'll do is, you know, our bomb team will do a lot of investigation, but at the same time, they got to render that device safe. So they'll do that in a variety of different ways, which could mean detonating it in place. But there's a lot of information and come out of that and they'll go back and look at it and look at forensics and be able to figure out okay, was it a pipe bomb? Was there it was, you know, what type of explosive was it and then go from there.
The personnel. How many of those are firefighters? Yeah, so the 2000 question was of the 2000 personnel on the line. How many are firefighters? That is the firefighting force that's out there. So that includes everything from hand crews to firefighters to engines.
Yeah, so we'll have a breakdown. At the end as far as war single family homes, what we're, you know, 10 by 12 enlarger. The best way to kind of reference it right now is to go on the county's website that has that information. And actually, when you click on the location of each structure gives a description about what it is.
Is there a backlog?
So there's a completed 65% of the fire area. I believe there's 12 teams out there, the damage inspection teams, one of the biggest hindrance, the work the team is, you know, Charging forward with is clearing all the roadways to get into the really inaccessible areas. You've seen the pictures online of the bridges that have been compromised, the trees that have come down the power lines that are in the roadway. literally getting access to some of the most damaged areas is limited so that chief Brennan's team is working diligently with the damage inspection teams to make sure they have the access to get in there and get those those all those structures catalog. Alright, so just a final note, want to say thank you. I know we stand up here a couple times a day and speak about the incident. But we are a very small piece of a much, much larger team out there and that encompasses everything from local jurisdictions in both counties to the EEO C's to the nonprofit organizations to the people who are housing, friends and family. Just from the from from us. Thank you for everybody for your patience. We are truly all in this together and we will make sure that that we continue to keep you informed until this is 100% complete Thank you