Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Meeting Notes – 6/24/2024 Special

A special Board of Supervisor meeting to review The Aero Fire.  Well worth reading so that you’ll have a better understanding of all the effort that goes into fighting a local fire.  Great big thank you to Janet!


Or watch the video.  As always, an excellent job Janet!

Aero Fire Update

Regular Agenda


Resolution – OES (ID # 8071) Adopt a Resolution Ratifying the Declaration by the Director of Emergency Services of a Local State of Emergency beginning on June 17, 2024 due to the Aero Fire.

Chief Nick Cask – Tuolumne-Calaveras Cal Fire Unit Chief and Administrator for Aero Fire – The incident started on Monday, June 17, 2024, at 3:29 p.m. Red Flag warning was in effect that day. Fire started and the heavy wind started at 30 to 40 acres. Within ten minutes was spotting due to wind. Aircraft was over the scene within the first hour of the fire. Haven’t had a fire occur in this area since 1994. Command staff at the scene acknowledged direct tactic wouldn’t work due to wind and spotting.
• Fire resources – supported 1,025 line personnel at the peak of the fire. As the fire expanded, we could tell Hwy 4 wouldn’t be a reinforcement, recalibrated priorities to find lines further out, provide evacuation recommendations, and move cattle as the fire was expanding, acknowledging Copper at O’Byrnes Ferry Road was going to be threatened. Large resources – aerial and ground, local support, and outside resources too. Fire came across Rock Creek Road and made its way towards Hodson Road. Put dozers and another fire team tied into Hwy 4 and tied it in.
• Very proud of all agencies who assisted us. Had staff for multi-day plans and procedures. Main transmission lines in Angels were at risk, so Angels was impacted immediately because of damage to lines. Lost 3 structures on Hodson Road, one residence, and two outbuildings.
• Undersheriff Rachelle Whitting – within the first few minutes we started sending resources. We immediately started coordinating with fire command within first hour and Cal Fire notified us early this was not going to be immediately stopped. We called emergency and contingency staffing plans. Sent out notification re evacuation notices and warnings. We coordinated ingress routes to Copper once fire jumped Hwy 4. By 6 p.m. we coordinated with OES and ordered additional assistance for nighttime shift and evacuations. We also had officers patrol areas where evacuations occurred. Set up a 3 to 5 day plan. Once our field command linked up to Cal Fire, Incident Command to field to EOC were seamless once relayed to dispatched.
• Utilized the genesis system and encourage residents to get access to that and know what zone you are in. It really made communication go fast. Continued coordination. Thanked Public Works with road closure signs, HHS did really well re shelter plans especially with ingress and egress routes as they are minimal. Needed to get out where people and pets could go and was done really well. Animal services did well to accommodate for livestock evacuation services and escort people in and out. Coordinated with utility partners because power was shut down to Copper and Angels. PG&E did a great job to re-energize lines when they could. Start to finish it was very rapid but coordination went very well.
• Erik Holtz – Director OES – Provided power point presentation. Please review to see slides of pictures – new Director of OES – has been on the job for 30 days and I have learned a lot. The leadership with our Sheriff’s Dept. and Cal Fire was amazing.
• Update today – 5,351 acres, 90% containment. No civilian injuries or fatalities. Three structures destroyed, two residents, auto shop and out building. Activated Emergency Operations Center at 4:30 p.m. Called all ESF Leads – we went full activation immediately. Cal Fire requested incident management team at 5:10 p.m. Mark Twain Elementary and Valley Springs Veterans all established as evacuation shelters at 5:30 p.m. Cal Fire IMT – 3 team activated. Declaration of local state of emergency signed at 5:40 p.m. Need for resources and evacuation possibly outside county and the number of people without power. Estimated nearly 6,000 residents without power at 5:42 p.m.  Request for evacuation shelters from Tuolumne and San Joaquin Counties at 6:35 p.m. At 6:45 p.m., estimated 4,959 residents evacuated and 3,741 structures threatened. At 7:32 p.m. San Joaquin Fairgrounds to open shelter with capacity of 50 people. At 8:00 p.m.
evening operations brief given to EOC personnel. Approximately 5,200 evacuees and fire approaching 5,000 acres.
• This fire came right to people’s doors and over 1,000 valiant fire firefighters did a tremendous job.
• Fire statistics: 5,351 acres has burned which has not moved since day two; 3 structures destroyed, 1 damaged; 5,115 residents evacuated. Estimated from PG&E 11,000 people
were without power. PG&E and CCWD were with us and assisted greatly. Thanked Will Harris from PG&E and Dana Wycroft from CCWD who were with us at EOC and providing us with information.
• Thanked the following: HHSA – Cory Allen, Michael McGana, Stacy Johnson – arrived at EOC within 20 minutes and had a plan immediately; Public Health – Chris Elderly – he was one of the people who was evacuated but maintained his duty; all of Sheriff’s Office; Cal Fire; PIO; ESC; Teresa Hitchcock was in the EOC; all of the BOS for communicating with us; Animals Services – Lisa Medina was wonderful.
• Supervisor Stopper – thanked everyone and the coordination was great, working together was phenomenal.
• Supervisor Folendorf – appreciated being kept up to date so she could share the
information with her constituents.
• Supervisor Huberty – thank you for all the communications.
• Supervisor Tofaneli – thanked everyone for their efforts, saved almost everything, was such a great combined effort from all agencies, it could have been much worse. You saved the town of Copper.
Lisa Medina – Environmental Management Agency Director – thanked all the amazing teams and Tuolumne and Amador Animal Services – they were able to monitor our evacuated animals, big help. Calaveras staff assisted with evacuation and housing and feeding. Laurie Chaynenee at the Fairgrounds, took in horses, goats, rabbits, birds, cats, dogs, etc. Thanked Sheriff’s Dept and Cal Fire for helping to feed our community animals. Thanked Erik Holtz for his leadership.
Erik Holtz – Directeor OES – lowest rating we got from our animal shelter was 10 out of 10; all evacuees were pleased.
• Undersheriff Rachelle Whitting – only thing we weren’t able to save was our overtime budget. This will impact our upcoming budget.
• Chair Garamendi – everyone did a wonderful job, we dodged a bullet and are getting better every time. The work that was done was impressive by all groups and organizations.
Everyone knew their job and did it well.
Public Comment • None
Motion to approve Resolution – passed 5 – 0.

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