Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve Vegetation Fire Not A Surprise During Dry Year

On Tues., Dec. 31, at approximately 7:15 A.M., John Whiteside was having a cup of coffee when FASCV President Jerry Haag called about radio traffic dispatching a fire on Mt. Hamilton, east of San Jose. The fire was reported to be  several miles west of the Lick Observatory on Calif. Hwy. 130. John knew a controlled burn was being planned, so he called Cal Fire dispatch to inquire if this was that fire, or something. In addition, he wanted to know if  Cal Fire VIPs or Fire Associates would be requested. The answer was, “A wildland fire, 40 acres with a potential of 200”, and please respond Fire Associates!"
John informed Jerry of the request as both FASCV members were scheduled to support a continuing County Fire training exercise that afternoon. Jerry told John to take the fire call and he would handle the training exercise. John’s personal vehicle was in the shop, so he called member Don Gilbert to inform him, ask if he could go, and would he pick John up at home? Then, John notified Sonitrol to page out the dispatch. En route to San Jose Station 6 to get Fire Support Unit 2, they picked up breakfast to eat en route -- a trip of approximately 23 miles, on a curvy, hilly road. The fire was located within Joseph Grant County Park, 2 miles east of the main entrance.
Cal Fire’s Morgan Hill headquarters had dispatched a response at 5:27 A.M., eventually including air tankers, copters, dozers, hand crews, engines, and requested mutual aid engines and water tenders from San Jose, Spring Valley Volunteers, and Santa Clara County Fire Departments. Most of the forest fire stations have been closed for the winter.
After distributing drinks to the rigs on Mt. Hamilton Road, FSU-2 was directed to enter the fire area at Twin Gates Trailhead (about 1 mile west of Cal Fire Station 12, Smith Creek) and proceed off-road to the head of the fire -- now no longer a threat. On a hilltop near the Command Post, rehab was set up and supported lunch distribution at approximately 2:00 P.M. FSU-2 was released and reached the valley floor around 4:00 P.M. Upon FSU-2's arrival back in San Jose, the on-duty fire crew at Station 6 voluntarily washed the rig, which was covered with a fine-powder dust.

This was the last run for 2013.
Resources that were requested or on scene (from Cal Fire - Morgan Hill):
  • Cal Fire:  Battalions 1600, 1605, and 1611; Prevention 1621; Captain 1632; Engines 1661, 1662, 1664, 1666, and 1681; CZU Engines 1766, 1768, and 1769; Ben Lomond Crews 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; CZU Dozer 1741; BEU Dozer 4641; Copters 104 and 406; and Air Tankers 80 and 81.
  • Spring Valley Volunteers:  Chiefs 1 and 2; Engines 22 and 52; and Patrol 22.
  • San Jose Fire:  Battalion 2; Engines 2, 18, 13, and 31; and Water Tenders 2, 13, and 18.
  • Santa Clara County Fire:  Engines 301 and 306.
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside