Monday, June 23, 2008

In a Moment's Notice

The City didn't have to wait a week before it could practice its response to a major wildland fire in upper Brisbane. A little before 7:30 PM last night, a real-life incident took place in the steep pitch of Owl Canyon, located on the northern side of San Bruno Mtn. The Brisbane Fire Dept., E81, was the first engine to arrive on scene and established the Incident Command Post (ICP) near Quarry Rd. In the event of a natural disaster such as last night's fire, the ICP acts as the central hub for on-scene incident command and management organization. When a Battalion chief arrived to the ICP, E81 was then able to be redeployed to Kings Rd.

30 fire companies from all over the Peninsula would eventually arrive to fight the blaze, including North County Fire and CAL Fire. Ultimately, a near 200-person firefighting crew was on-hand, which also included a rehab unit, a bulldozer, 2 helicopters, and 10 chief officers. 100 police officers were also called in to help with the precautionary evacuation order of Trinity, Paul, Kings, and Margaret in the upper community of Central Brisbane. A total of 102 residences were evacuated, with the Community Park serving as a first place of refuge for those evacuees. Brisbane Public Works was on-site to assist in directing traffic, helping keep emergency access routes to the site clear and accessible to responding units. Those evacuated were directed to head towards Mission Blue Center, where food and drinks were provided. Community Emergency Volunteers (CEVs) made themselves readily available in directing traffic, as well as activiating MBC as a temporary shelter.

CAL Fire then dropped off crews at the top of the Mountain, who implemented what is called a backfire. This is a fire set along the inner edge of a fireline to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire. In essence, a backfire is started to draw the fire back to its head, cutting off its fuel. The backfire was completed successfully, though not without offering those looking on quite the glowing spectacle. The fire was contained in approximately 5 hours, with extinguishment and overhaul continuing today. With winds now blowing smoke over Central Brisbane, the Brisbane Fire Dept. advises for residents to stay indoors and for windows to remain tightly closed. If you have respiratory problems, it may be worth considering to move to another location while the air clears over the next couple of days.

The emergency evacuation drill will still be taking place this coming Saturday, though smaller in scale than what the City actually saw take place this past weekend. It will allow the community a time of de-briefing of yesterday's fire, as there is no better time than now to discuss insights of what worked well during yesterday's incident and what didn't. For example, how to best keep the streets clear for responding units, while likewise ensuring that residents are able to safely exit the incident scene. After yesterday's event, this may be most swiftly done on foot to allow responding vehicles enough room to pass. So please plan on participating in this Saturday's exercise, because as we experienced from last night, the next wildland fire could come at any time. It's up to us to determine whether or not we're doing all we can to be fully prepared for when that moment comes.

Pictures sent from residents and found on news sites are compiled below:

A shot taken from the Northeast Ridge.

Quenching the flames with water from the Bay.

North County Fire and CAL Fire crews.

Backfire being implemented down Trinity.

Courtesy of KGO...and yes, that's a hummingbird in the foreground.

Press conference held this afternoon at Mission Blue Center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been watching the fire from my balcony at The Ridge and I just wanted to say what a fabulous job everyone concerned did! Just excellent in all respects. Your efforts (and success) are so greatly appreciated, each and every time you are called upon to protect us. Thank you so much!!