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The County’s Department of Public Works and County Fire Department have been busy helping to restore order to various county communities following Sunday’s floods and debris flows.
Mt. Baldy, Forest Falls, and Oak Glen were hit the hardest. County Public Works Crews have cleared Mt. Baldy Road of debris, and a loader and grader are staged in the area in case additional work is needed. Some reports hold that thunderstorms might return as soon as Sunday.
In Forest Falls, crews were able to open Valley of the Falls Drive, even though cleanup in the community is expected to last at least through August 22. Crews are also expected to spend two more weeks cleaning up in Oak Glen, where at least four major storm culverts were completely blocked. Oak Glen Road is now open.
County Fire Hand Crews have been in Mt. Baldy and Forest Falls helping residents dig out from the mud and debris. County Fire also brought in equipment to start clearing driveways of mud and debris.
The desert areas of the county are suffering as well, with Barstow Heights and Big River the hardest hit. Public Works crews were also dispatched to Helendale, National Trails Highway, and various earthen flood control channels.
Keep up to date on road closures by visiting Public Works’ award-winning website at http://www.sbcounty.gov/dpw/
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors ratified a declaration of local emergency signed Monday by County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux. If the governor concurs, the county’s cleanup costs will be eligible for reimbursement and low-interest loans might be available to residents who lost property.
Possession of any type of fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks, is against the law in any unincorporated area of San Bernardino County. In the event a fire occurs due to the unsafe use of fireworks, the responsible persons are likely to face criminal charges and be held liable for damages.
“Safe and Sane” fireworks are only allowed in the following cities: Adelanto, Chino, Colton, and Rialto, as well as specific locations in Fontana, Grand Terrace, and San Bernardino. Please call the fire department in these cities for more information. All fireworks are illegal elsewhere in the county. All fireworks that explode, shoot into the air or move along the ground are termed dangerous and are illegal anywhere in California.
With San Bernardino County facing a dangerous wildland fire season, the County Fire Department has increased its vigilance in enforcing state and county firework laws to protect public health and safety. Fire officials will be issuing citations for the illegal use of fireworks, with fines up to $1,250 for the first offense. Property owners may be cited if they allow fireworks to be possessed, stored or used on their property.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, on a typical 4th of July, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. While “Safe and Sane” fireworks are allowed in some San Bernardino County communities, the County Board of Supervisors and County Fire encourage residents to watch fireworks at community celebrations rather than use their own.
When using fireworks where allowed, County Fire offers some safety tips:
Always use fireworks (“Safe and Sane” only) with an adult present. Even a “Safe and Sane” sparkler burns at a temperature that ignites clothing easily
Always read and follow label directions
Always have water (garden hose/bucket) and a fire extinguisher within reach
Always place fireworks on a firm, non-combustible surface, like a sidewalk or pavement
Never alter fireworks
Never re-light “dud” fireworks
Homemade fireworks are often deadly; leave the making of fireworks to the experts
Never point, throw or mishandle fireworks
In addition to fires, fireworks cause deaths, blindness, and maiming injuries to children and adults every year.
For more information on fireworks safety, contact your local fire station.
Have a SAFE celebration!
On May 5, San Bernardino County Fire Department responded to multiple reports of a fire at the construction site of the Ranchero Road overcrossing and Interstate 15 in the City of Hesperia. Callers stated that flames were visible on the underside of the bridge in center divider area.
First arriving units discovered a well-established fire that carried across the entire bridge project which spans the interstate. They also noted debris falling onto the freeway and immediately requested a full closure of the north and southbound lanes for commuter safety.
Suppression efforts were hampered at many points during the extended attack. Falling debris and ongoing collapses prevented crews from fighting the fire from beneath the structure. Once personnel pulled back out of the collapse zone, constant winds of 25 mph with 35 mph gusts kept hose streams from penetrating deep into the bridge and to the seat of the fire. These same winds contributed to the quick spread as flames were pushed through the construction area much like a wildland environment. Being on the interstate, access to fire hydrants was reduced, therefore a number of water tenders were brought to scene to support the large volume of water being utilized to combat the blaze.
In all, 11 engines, one truck company, one patrol, six water tenders, and one hand crew totaling over 60 personnel were assigned to the incident as well as multiple chief officers. An additional strike team of engines was deployed to the High Desert to backfill committed resources and provide uninterrupted service for additional 911 responses which included a structure fire in the City of Hesperia.
Cause of the fire was determined to be from a rebar cutting operation in which blowtorches carried fire into the falsework of the bridge thus igniting the fire. Workers reported that initial extinguishment efforts were unsuccessful due to the high wind.
There was a single reported injury to a civilian who suffered minor smoke inhalation and was treated and released at the scene.
County Fire remains in Unified Command with the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans.
Northbound I-15 was reopened at 5 p.m. on May 6th and Southbound I-15 was reopened at about 1 a.m. today. County Fire personnel will remain on scene until the fire hazard is mitigated.
Watch a video of the first partial bridge collapse.
Forecasts may call for cooler weather this week, but don’t be fooled, this will be short lived; the sun will shine and our region will soon be sweltering. Due to the late rain in our region, light flashy fuels will be at their height in no time. This means grasses and weeds will flourish. With warmer weather, these flashy fuels will quickly dry out and cause an extreme fire danger, as evident by the recent Etiwanda Fire that burned over 2,100 acres in Rancho Cucamonga.
May 4-10 is National Wildfire Awareness Week. San Bernardino County Fire reminds residents to do their part in understanding fire danger by exercising extreme caution around dry, flammable vegetation. Wildfire safety isn’t limited to those who live near wild lands, it’s for anyone camping or spending time in these locations as well.
Contrary to common perception, a wildfire does not have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing property of debris and maintaining landscaping are important, yet simple, first steps for homeowners. Residents can do their part and take simple steps today to lessen the risk of damage if a wildfire occurs.
- Create a defensible area, firebreaks that divert flames around property, by clearing weeds and dry grass at least 100 feet around your home. Property on sloped areas should be cleared at least 100 feet as well, as wind-fed flames can race up hills and mountainsides quickly.
- Store flammable liquids in approved safety cans away from occupied buildings.
- Keep propane tanks clear of vegetation.
- Keep all combustibles, such as firewood, lawn furniture, picnic tables, etc., away from structures.
- Clean rain gutters regularly to avoid leaf and needle accumulation.
- Clear vegetation and other flammable materials from beneath decks or other wooden structures.
- Remove tree limbs and vegetation that overhang the roof.
- Remove all branches lower than 6 feet.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Dispose of stove or fireplace ash and charcoal briquettes after soaking them in a metal pail of water for 24 hours.
- Keep garden hose connected to faucet.
- Review your home escape plan with your family & have a fire drill exercise.
- Ensure address is clearly visible from the street.
To learn more on how you can be prepared for a wildfire, visit http://sbcfire.org/fire_prevention_advice.aspx. You can also contact your local fire department for further information and free property inspection.
San Bernardino County Fire wishes you a safe summer.
San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig and Sheriff John McMahon announced the graduation of the second County Inmate Fire Crew, also known as Glen Helen 2. In July 2013 Chief Mark Hartwig stated, “We hope this hand crew is the first of many more to come and plan to continue expansion of the program.” That expansion took just six short months, with two additional academies to begin in the near future.
The 13 member inmate fire crew began their training in January; with a curriculum consisting of 5 weeks of initial training in wildland fire suppression techniques, along with the basic Incident Command System, first-aid, CPR, confined space awareness, chainsaw operations, and small engine and facility repair.
“Educating offenders while incarcerated is a step closer to reducing recidivism.” stated Sheriff John McMahon. “Our goal is to turn their lives around and send them back into mainstream society rehabilitated, educated and ready for employment.”
The fire crew’s main objective is to respond to fire suppression incidents, as well as other types of emergency operations such as sandbagging. The crew also assist with local fuels reduction programs and chipping operations; assisting other county departments in meeting their mission in a cost effective manner.
On Sunday March 9 when we spring one hour ahead, make sure to change batteries in all your home safety devices (smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, flashlights, etc.). Working smoke alarms are critical to helping save your life. Each month news reports have stressed how important smoke alarms were in either saving a life or unfortunately reporting that someone had died in a home with non-working or no smoke alarms.
If you installed the 10-year lithium smoke alarms then you have eliminated the need for batteries every year; however, a little spring cleaning for your home safety devices will ensure they are free of dust or defect. Make sure your other devices have new batteries or just check to see if batteries are present. Checking all your home safety devices can be a family activity which will reinforce to all that safety is a top priority. Having the devices is the first step, but making sure they are working and having a plan brings safety full circle.
Other steps to help your family stay safe include residential home sprinklers, a home escape plan, and general preparedness for various natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Having a plan and making sure you have all the equipment/items you need will help in your families safety. For more life safety information, visit www.sbcfire.org.
The County of San Bernardino will provide emergency management services to the City of San Bernardino under a new agreement passed by the Board on Tuesday.
“The main goal of this partnership is improving public safety. We want all of our 24 cities and towns prepared and ready to respond to any type of disaster so that residents can get the help they need, when they need it most,” said Michael Antonucci, Emergency Services Manager for the County of San Bernardino.
“Not only will this improve current operations, this agreement will also allow the city to qualify for future grant funding for additional emergency management services.”
The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Office of Emergency Services will deliver the contracted assistance. The County will also advise the city in developing a Hazard Mitigation Plan, which will help organize resources, assess risks, and create an emergency management strategy.
“This partnership demonstrates the public benefit that can come from close collaboration between local governments. If we share the same residents, we can share the same goals. Let’s also share the solutions,” said Supervisor Josie Gonzales. The agreement begins this year on Feb. 1 and extends to Jan. 31, 2017 at no net cost to the County. The city has also agreed to give County Fire their future annual Emergency Management Performance Grant funding within the period of the contract.
City of San Bernardino Fire and Police Departments released a joint statement, “Emergency management is a top priority in the City of San Bernardino. We are pleased to help better serve our residents with the support of the County, and look forward to future cooperative opportunities that benefit our shared community.”
In 1991, Wallace began her career with San Bernardino County Department of Environmental Health as an unpaid intern from California State University, San Bernardino. She later worked for the Solid Waste Department for 6 months. In June of 1992, Wallace was hired as a Hazardous Materials Specialist in the Household Hazardous Waste Program (HHW).
She was later promoted to Supervising Hazardous Materials Specialist in August 2001. In April of 2011, she was asked to work in the capacity of Interim Deputy Fire Marshal.
Originally from Jamaica, Wallace was one of the first five females that were accepted to the West Indies School of Public Health Training Program for Public Health Inspectors (Environmental Health Specialists). Wallace earned certificates from the West Indies School of Public Health, the University of the West Indies and the Royal Society of Health, England.
Firefighters responded to a three-alarm commercial fire at the Fontana Recycling Center, located at the 14900 block of Slover Avenue in Fontana. Initial reports stated a bundle of cardboard was on fire to the north of the large butler building. Employees tried to put out the fire using fire extinguishers, however strong winds quickly spread the fire and employees were forced to evacuate.
Upon firefighter arrival less than 5 minutes later, the fire driven by 25 MPH winds gusting upward to 50 MPH, had spread to the butler building and several other bundles of cardboard and embers were blowing upwards to ¼ mile away, starting additional fires.
Firefighters quickly sprung into action putting out spot fires and aggressively attacking the fire utilizing all available resources. Explosions could be heard coming from a diesel storage container, moments later live power lines tumbled to the surface, hindering firefighting efforts. Firefighters continued to battle the blaze and extinguish numerous new fire starts. Embers started a spot fire on the other side of Slover Ave., catching vegetation on fire and putting that business at risk. Embers also caught fire to a wood fence to the back side of a residence. Firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the home. Firefighters were successful in saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in machinery, several buildings, vehicles and semi-tractor trailers, as well as construction equipment.
In an effort to provide greater fire protection for residents of the Crest Forest Fire Protection District and surrounding communities, the County Fire Department is offering a free wood chipping program. Residents that have property located directly adjacent to the national forest in this area are eligible for the program.
One of the most effective defensive tools against the threat of wildfire is to have “defensible space” around a home. Defensible space is an area surrounding a structure that has been cleared of excess vegetation, debris and/or any other flammable materials. Having good defensible space allows fire crews a chance to more effectively defend a structure against an oncoming fire.
County Land Use Services Department, Code Enforcement Division, began weed abatement inspections on January 13 and will continue until the perimeter of the district is complete. The teams are inspecting high hazard areas adjacent to the national forest boundary for defensible space compliance. Property owners will be contacted by mail if property improvements are needed. In the mailer, a flyer will be included which will contain more information about the chipping program.
Under this program, property owners will be able to have their wood debris chipped and re-distributed back onto their property. These wood chips are far less combustible, and transition from vegetation that supports burning into wood chips that help retard the growth of a fire. The cost of providing this chipping service is being incurred by the County Fire Department.
Property owners are responsible for cutting or raking the materials and having the debris placed curbside for chipping – as no haul away will be available. It is essential that all properties in the area be treated in order to provide the best level of protection. Consequently, if a property owner does not take advantage of the free chipping program in the time frame allotted, then they will be held responsible for the clean-up and removal at their own expense. Wood chipping is scheduled to begin in February; dates and locations to be announced.
It’s not a question of if, but when, the next wildfire will occur. With advance planning and preparation, you can dramatically increase your safety and the survivability of your property. Visit www.sbcfire.org/fire_prevention_advice.aspx to learn how to make your home defensible against fires. The Ready! Set! Go! Personal Wildfire Action Plan gives you the tips and tools to successfully prepare for a wildfire.
For more information, call Land Use Services at 909-884-4056 or the Office of the Fire Marshal at 909-386-8400.