6am Sun 8/23 #CZULightningComplexFire news conference
1:59PM Aug 23, 2020
san mateo county
Your lights on.
Good morning. My name is Jonathan Cox. This is the 6am press conference here on the CCU complex in callfire. San Mateo Santa Cruz unit. Just a few things if you can mute your telephones please take any questions or conversations out of the area. And please keep your masks on. Just a quick update on the fire this morning. As of Oh 600 this morning, the CCU lightning complex is now 71,000 acres and it is now 8% contained We still have 24 over 24,000 structures that are threatened by this fire. And we can confirm that we do have 129 structures that have been destroyed. Of those hundred and 29 structures, we will have a better breakdown as the days go on that delineate between residential homes, commercial structures, outbuildings, etc. So right now the the number, the gross number is 129. And those are structures in both San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. We can confirm structural loss in both of those counties. We also have 1300 and 49 personnel from throughout the area, including out of state resources now at the fire with the update on the actual operations going on on the ground. CAL FIRE Incident Management Team three chief Brian
Good morning. So as we reported last night, we had a really good
success yesterday with the moderating of the fire front so calmed down enough with us due to the weather that we're really able to jump on it and accomplish a lot of our strategic priorities throughout the fire, the north part of the fire in the North Zone around those communities that are affected, we're able to continue to construct line put in our fire control lines to monitor the fire and we were able to fly the aircraft due to the good air, lack of smoke, if you will, in those areas. So we utilized our helicopters which we had available to us six water dropping helicopters to bombard that area throughout the day. And that helped us out to to slow the fire effects in this movement so that our line or crews could get in there and establish lines. In the south part of the fire were able to improve our secondary contingency line or a secondary fire break, if you will, to the south part of the fire above the campus, the UC campus as well as to mitigate the fire spread south into the community of Santa Cruz capital as we moved into the highway nine corridor in the Boulder Creek area again, moderation of the fire kept the fire well above that community. Although the smoke conditions very heavy, the fire front is slowed greatly and pave our crews some opportunities to work there. Again with our limited resources. We could put in construct as much line as we would like. But certainly any line that could be constructed is an improvement for us above the community of Ben Lomond. I know there's been a lot of concern and some questions whether we have resources there. We do have resource there. We have had resources in there throughout this entire event. They are well outside of the community up onto the ridge top, which they are constructing line they're taking actions and point protection of structure protection. There's a question how far the fire got down Alba road, it is on the probably the top quarter of the road has not progressed any further than that into the community. And that's where we've had a significant amount of resources throughout yesterday and last night. Pretty The community of Ben Lomond, so they have had protection. They have had resources in there. And they have been working tirelessly, yesterday and through the night to protect that community. The community, Felton is sitting very well, the fire hasn't made any progressions we, as a report a couple days ago or a day ago, there was a Spotfire that community from the main fire miles away, that was mitigated. We've been monitoring that throughout that is fully out and controlled. So that's looking really good. We've had no further incidents. Regarding the effect of fire on to the community of Felton in the community Bonnie doon it's been continued progress throughout their albeit slow. Fire is widespread through that community. And so our resources have been doing a great job of point protection, getting in an amount like structures, putting any control lines they can, suppressing any fire they can around those structures. We have not had any reports of any structures lost over the overnight hours. So that's a positive. We really haven't had that in this past week. So So that's that's a win for us in that direction. We continue to have the issue of people in the evacuated zones that are hindering our firefighting efforts. And as the sheriff's said, serious office, I've said before and as completed, that these people, Please evacuate, they not hinder our actions. They continue to do so. It's unfortunate it's sickening that one of our fire ground commanders in that area while out taking care of business and directing firefighting crews. Somebody entered his vehicle as a department vehicle and stole personal vehicles including his wallet and drain his bank account. So that's the extent that these people have gone again, this is why we have asked for people to evacuate the Sheriff's Department has done a fantastic job in trying to wrangle this but again, this is what we have as a result. It's saddening, it's sickening, and we are doing everything we can to try to help the community and unfortunate these happens. So please again, if you're there, leaving When asked to leave, and let our folks get in there, do what they're doing so that we have the progress we have yesterday to control the fire, help the communities and try to put this thing out. With the upcoming weather. We're doing everything we can to plan for for that. We will have contingency plans in place, and we will do everything we possibly can to mitigate any future fires, as well as be prepared for the winds that will come with this storm, and will give us some challenges with our efforts but we were prepared to meet that challenge and take that on and protect the community.
Speaking next one of unified incident commanders from Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office chief deputy Clark.
Well, good morning, so I'll touch on a few things we did last night. Again, burglary suppression was kind of the name of our game. We today from our operational period from 7am To 7pm tonight, just to give you some numbers with regards to kind of how many personnel we have working, we're in about 94 total 6060 of our folks augmented by 34, mutual aid assets. And then in terms of so there was burglary suppression, and then then again working in and in conducting welfare checks as they came in. We responded to three welfare checks last night. And then we had three suspicious, suspicious people calls that we went out and investigated. We made no arrests, and there were no additional missing people. I want to talk about the evacuation zone again, as you just heard chief Bratton say it being in the evacuation zone, technically it's against the law. We you know, I can completely empathize protecting your house, I get that. But if you're riding around, it's technically it's a violation of law. And so we have folks that are looking for people trying to prey on people that have evacuated and so we want to focus on that and so And at the same time, I want to provide room for callfire to work so please, please, please, please leave the evacuated area and do not be riding around or driving around in the evacuated evacuated area. And not only because we're looking for people looting and burglarizing homes and just as you heard breaking into a cow fire truck, it's absolutely disgusting behavior. I can't, frankly I can't believe that somebody would actually have the nerve to break into a firefighters vehicle or enter their vehicle to steal something from him when they're there to protect the community. It honestly it blows me away, but it's something our folks are focused on. As we go through this. In in terms of hazards alone, we had a patrol card just as we're trying to do our work. The conditions out there are there you know, it's there's active fire area, you've got branches that are falling just last night we had a branch literally fall on a patrol car and damaged the windshield. So I mean, there's a There's hazards out there even for us. And then lastly, just in this vein of people looking to prey on people and, and I want to, in part, what I'm trying to do is, is provide everybody with as much information to protect you, as much as possible with that is scams and this parts coming next and so it's starting to trickle in. But please, if you get a call from like pg&e, or someone who says, Hey, I like something's going on, whether it's your power, whether it's taxes, you've got a warrant or anything like that. They may call you may receive a call like that. It's not legitimate, absolutely not legitimate, and they're going to ask you to provide them gift cards or put, you know, transfer money to a certain location. Don't do that at all. Do not do that. If you get a call from any sort of official source. If you question the validity of it, and you should question the validity of those calls. Contact the agency directly contact them directly and ask Hey, I received You get the phone call, I got this call, they're asking for this. You know, you get well you get the call, okay, Hang the phone up, call the agency that they identified themselves as being from and confirm that it's legitimate. I can I can tell you 99.9% of the time in my experience, they have not been legitimate. So just to warn the public that that is that that's where we're going next with some of this with with folks that are looking to to hurt people. And it's and it's terrible. So again, we're going to be running around today looking for people evacuating people as they need to be evacuated but also trying to do our best to to protect your stuff while while you're gone. Thank you.
Speaking for another one of the unified command agencies from San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Detective blanks, Wade.
Good morning. We do not have any changes for San Mateo County, but we wanted to touch on a couple of different points. We're preparing for the weather change, but we're hoping for the best We're continuing to do the safety and security checks every night and throughout the day. And still there's been no issues there. The beaches are closed and halfmoon Bay. And we're pretty disappointed that we saw so many people still traveling to the coast and going to the beaches yesterday. We really need to rally together right now Bay Area. You never know when this is going to be your town, your city and your homes. And if we can support each other now, it'll build a better and stronger B area when you might need it most. So please don't come to the beaches right now. Any other time might be better. But right now we need your help. Do not come to the coast. Thank you.
Speaking for callfire Incident Management Team three is the incident commander Billy see.
A good morning over the last 24 hours. We've had some decent success out on the line we've able to gain or increase our company And efforts out there on the fire while still building some contingency winds around some key infrastructure, places and some key communities out there. We're going to continue that process today. as time allows, and weather conditions allow, obviously, with the red flag warnings scheduled for the next 48 hours, it's very concerning for all the firefighters, they're going to be on high alert out there today. And tomorrow, and the coming days to quickly respond to react to and pre plan for any significant events that occur outside of our perimeter while maintaining control of what we do have. And then making sure that if we do get a wind event, that we're able to react quickly to any aggressive spread from this fire that's currently out there right now. Obviously, it's a major concern to all of us. We all understand that. The general public is still in that evacuation zone is a huge safety factor for all my personnel working out They're, please, if you're in those evacuation order areas, please leave my firefighters in a safe work environment to work in. They will protect everything possible out there. I promise. No Good day.
And the final speaker for the callfire San Mateo Santa Cruz unit chief Ian Larkin.
Good morning, everybody. I just want to reiterate what chief c c said, the next couple days is going to be pivotal for us as an agency and as a team here, unified with all of our partners, trying to make the best out of a bad situation. Our firefighters do need your help. If you're out there, still in the communities, please leave the area. This is going to be a very, very dangerous situation with the predicted weather that's coming in and the volatility that could come with that in the Increase in fire behavior. You're not trained for this and those that are out there that are trained. And you've your firefighters that are protecting your community that have come in from your days off to try to help out. We appreciate your help, but be vigilant, use your training to save yourself. And the event that this thing does blow up and become a volatile situation. We're working diligently every day with the resources that we have, though they're limited. They are out there doing a great job trying to put in control lines, protect point protection on any of the structures, putting perimeter control and where they're able to. So I can't stress it enough that those that are running around in the community, you're putting yourself in danger. Our first responders that are out there, including our law partners, as you just heard, had a branch come down and hit their vehicle. I personally witnessed yesterday I drove up through Bonnie Dune and within five minutes had turned around to come back down the hill. And a very large branch the size of, you know, 1012 inches diameter had came out came out of a tree that has been stressed. So all that heavy fuel that's been burning up there is very stressed here the roadways and has been impacted very hard by the fire and is been burning for somewhere around five days now. So it's going to come down to the roadway. So it's a hazard to you. It's a hazard to our firefighters. So please leave the area. I can't stress it enough. I plead with you guys. Please leave the area. Let us do our job. Thank you.
Okay, we'd be happy to answer any questions.
Yes, the question related to the towns in the San Lorenzo Valley and how we actually try to keep fire out of the communities and get it to come around or hurt it around. All that chief brought me into it.
because our number one priority is life and then property in that order, our personnel are willing to step up take on that risk. That's what we're paid to do, or we're trained to do. And we're, I think, very good at doing that. We've, unfortunately had a lot of practice over the years. So our folks are very good at they know when to engage, they know when to, to use that tactic to the best of his ability while keeping themselves safe. And at that point, they will continue to use that tactic. And it's a tactic we use, quite frankly, when we have limited resources, or there is a very fast moving firefight or a combination there of both. So it's a tactic we've been using its tactical continues to to best protect the community. And we will we will disengage when we feel that it becomes a life safety issue. But we will, we will continue use that and then what we do by hurting it, the car's got to go somewhere and we'll we'll do is we'll take it to an area that gives us the best advantage to to jump on it and fully suppress that fire. So that's how that tactic works. Again, very comfortable using it and re using it with the utmost safety in mind for the public and our personal
resources. And now we're getting all these new firefighters in to help battle these lasers. How are you prioritizing? How's that working with all these fires in the state going on? How are you prioritizing these new resources coming in? Are we at the top of the list?
So what happens and without getting into a lot of detail is all the incidents submit paperwork that give us the people that centralized command the all the incidents statewide. So then do evaluate each incident and from that evaluation of each incident then they prioritize so that they can allocate the resources accordingly and appropriately this incident is sitting Very high on that list. I've let chief c tell you exactly where we sit that's in his purview. But we are sitting very high will tell you that much. So as the limited resources do come available, then we are allocated, what we are where we sit on the list. And then once we get those resources, no matter what resources they are, we put them to work within our plan or strategy that we've developed within our incident.
Yeah, they're very close. chiefs. I believe we're a few days out from their training been completed. They've been working all weekend training all week in for deployment, and again, to be allocated throughout all these incidents. So I would anticipate within a few days, they will get their training will be complete. They'll be ready to deploy once they're deployed through that allocation process. We'll see what resources we will get. I can't promise that we will get them but we have a high likelihood we will see some Have those resources. And then once we do get them, we have plenty of work for them. And we will employ them immediately, I promise you. Right. So the winds working for or against us. So we've been having some pretty hostile wins, adverse to our fire conditions over the past week. past couple days, they've mitigated, it's given us opportunity to jump in there and to start taking care of the fire problem. And then with this new frontal system coming in with the lightning and so forth, it poses significant challenges because of the type of event it is weather wise, in which the biggest issue overall is we really can't determine exactly what direction the wind comes. We have a there's a general pattern that comes in from an obstruction we've been seeing to the begin and then after these thunderstorms come over the quite. What they do is they blow the fire and all various directions just to the nature of that bad weather pattern. So that is concerned for us, we can only prepare so much for that because we're not sure exactly which wind direction but we are prepared for adverse conditions.
It's very difficult what would be evacuated. Next, we've done a very good job of evacuating all the surrounding communities that be directly affected. So I would hazard to Yes, exactly. And don't want to put any sort of false concerns out there, regarding which direction we'll go next, we're very comfortable with the control lines we put in to protect the southern part of the fire in those communities. To the north of it again, we have some very good control lines to protect the fire from from going further into San Mateo County. So we're very comfortable with what we've got right now. And once we do get that weather pattern in and we can better detect which way those wind directions are going to be sustained at through working through our incident meteorologist, then we will deploy our resources accordingly. Tomorrow Take those communities we have decision points in play. That gives us plenty of time to work with our law enforcement partners to do either evacuation warnings or evacuation orders as is necessary.
damage assessments for specific properties and how that information will be given to the homeowner.
The question related to the damage inspection process and information release. What our teams do is our damage inspection teams go into these locations and they grab a lot of data about the structures that were actually destroyed and damaged. That information then comes back here and is distributed to each county individually. So Santa Cruz County and San Mateo County. Because structural parcel and information about property is in the wheelhouse of a county. It goes to the county for the release process. So we gather the information within the fire perimeter, we are distributed to each county and then the county itself makes a decision about how and when to make publicly available. So there, you know, the assessment teams almost quadrupled a couple days ago. So I think as we've said, we've seen the the increase like this, and we're starting to see that increase kind of get greater each day and each time we're releasing these numbers. So I think over the next few days, you'll you'll see some more significant numbers. And as soon as it can become publicly available, I'm pretty, pretty confident that each county is very dedicated to make that happen. And I know from multiple fires, people want to know if their homes are still standing. And we just asked, as we always do for for patients, we are getting that information, but more importantly, we want to make sure that information is accurate before it becomes public.
Yeah, the question was whether there's heavy equipment working in the Santa Cruz area. Brenton has equipment all over this fire on every division on every branch and that includes bulldozers and crews, fire engines, they move and and put in their lines based on the fire activity and based on on where their priorities are at. So I can adamantly say he's got equipment all the way around this fire. And that includes a line that they built just north of Santa Cruz. That is that is fairly significant.
Talk about bringing in the National Guard, law enforcement committed.
So the question is, is there any talk about bringing the National Guard for any sort of law enforcement officers the sheriff's office?
Yeah, in terms of in terms of NASCAR now, so right now we've, we've had an outpouring of support for our mutual aid partners. We've been able to fill all of the positions that that we've needed. So at this point, I think we've got sufficient resources if we need more, to be able to push in different areas. I feel good. I feel good about that. Help and Support were getting So now, we don't need the National Guard.
mix of both mix of both. I mean, if you're if you're a crookedness area, likely you may not have left and you may be hiding someplace, looking to continue doing what it is that you do, and unfortunately, they're there. They're probably here. But again, we're looking for him. And and then and then also there's people that now see this as an opportunity we're going to try to sneak in and again, we're looking for those folks to
be concerned about
who want to protect your property and my firearms.
Concern about having
it's a desperate Yes, I mean, short answer. Yes. You know, it's a desperate time. I mean, you got to feel for people we've been they've been impacted by COVID people who are out of work, you know, people are, you know, and so you know, all those factors combining and for people to see Stay home, I can understand that desperation. Does that lead to a more dangerous situation for potential people that show up at these houses? Yes. And unfortunately there's there's a heightened awareness and for us, you know, as we're as we're going through and we're contacting these people, we get too desperate. I mean, I shouldn't say I get the desperation. I'm not in a position but I can understand I can empathize. But to answer your your question, Tom. Yeah, it It leads to to, to a more dangerous sort of atmosphere.
All right. Everybody who spoke today is available for one on one interviews after this. The next press briefing will be 6pm this evening in the same location. I appreciate everybody for coming out. This concludes the press conference. Thank you.