Brush fire with rapid rate of spread between Clear Lake and Lower Lake in the Cache Creek Mobile Home Park — #CacheFire at 6th Avenue and Cache Street. Probably 30 acres. Immediate threat to several hundred structures. Two may be burning now. Ordering two additional tankers and 10 additional engines. Priorities are structure defense and perimeter control.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department has issued evacuation orders for residents living in east Lower Lake and southeast of Clearlake, specifically in evacuation zones LOW-E159 and LOW-E160. "Please leave immediately and take your pets." Authorities warn there is an immediate threat to life and property, and therefore urge residents to leave the area. No evacuation shelter has been identified.
"Based on footage on the ground and satellite imagery, this event has already become a dangerous WUI (wildland-urban interface) fire in Clearlake proper under strong wind/Red Flag conditions." (Daniel Swain)
The San Francisco Chronicle published yesterday: “Cache Fire destroys structures around Clearlake, thousands evacuated” [https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Fast-moving-Cache-Fire-prompts-evacuations-in-16396259.php]
“Lake County [District 2] Supervisor Bruno Sabatier, who represents Clearlake, praised the efforts of firefighters but said he was saddened to see more homes lost in the community.
“’We’ve made a huge effort to mitigate fires and increase fire safety in the region, yet fires continue to find those areas (where) we have not yet completed those mitigating efforts,’ Sabatier wrote in a text message. ‘We need to do better for everyone, and today I can’t help but feel that we fell short of doing enough.'”
On Monday, August 16, the Lake County “Community Risk Reduction Authority” conducted its regular monthly meeting, receiving status reports from directors, departmental staff, members of the Authority’s “Standing Committee” (working with federal and municipal agencies to fund vegetation management projects and responding to grant funding opportunities), and the newly retained coordinator, a long-time NCO stalwart with Lake County roots and active participation in the local Red Cross services for evacuees — which now include the sheltered refugees at the Kelseyville High School shelter facility.
Unfortunately, the key program that was initiated for disaster mitigation by the County Board of Supervisors well over a decade ago, described in the “Community Wildfire Protection Plan” (2009) has been lodged in the contracted agency for its maintenance and implementation (the Lake County Resource Conservation District and the nearly invalided Lake County Fire Safe Council) since it was approved, and the current work-in-progress report was a “status quo” report — not available for content review and public education and outreach, but “soon.”
Lack of support for significant fuel load reductions imperil most of the communities around the main attraction (Clear Lake) with the exception of valuable oak woodlands that have been destroyed to produce lucrative agricultural products (wine and pot) with incalculable losses of fragile groundwater resources — resulting in recent urgency ordinances passed by the Board of Supervisors, but not much activity to enforce violations of existing municipal codes or abatement of hazardous vegetation called for in the Hazardous Vegetation Abatement ordinance and funded by property-owner-established “benefit zones” in the area with the highest risk for wildfire catastrophe, the Rivieras (on the slopes of Mt. Konocti, which is where our unusable forest fire watch tower stands — waiting for the release of CalFire’s specification of repair requirements — not far from the critical communication tower broadcasting into the Upper Cache Creek watershed and Clear Lake basin signal recipients).
Pre-occupation with revenue-bearing legal commercial cannabis operations and illegal equivalents, new COVID surge responses and Public Health practices, internal organizational mysteries (replacement of critical staff in the Community Development Department and catching up with state compliance requirements in the Department of Water Resources, etc.), and bureaucratic bulwark-building (many new BoS-formed “committees” and expansion of the Risk Reduction Authority itself) have not yielded satisfactory investment in local community capacity-building for actual risk-reduction and emergency service delivery to disabled populations. The Sheriff’s Office has added a much-needed position for a professional Public Information Officer, at the same time as the Office of Emergency Services has announced the retirement of its appointed manager, meaning the whole organization (of two) — with its already minimized responsibilities and desperately insufficient capacity — will soon be an empty shell at a time when we are experiencing the throes of wildfire season, with much of our local workforce out of the county assisting with megafires in other California counties and the chaos of humanly-caused conflagrations keeping our first and second responders exhausted.
An update from the Catholic Charities field worker on the scene included this note: “We were out helping people. We got essential go bags to people. (Crank radios, phone chargers, flashlights, etc…) food and info. We spent a lot of time helping people who did not know the zones.
“Not many were at the evac shelter. Many were in cars parked along the roads and parking lots. Gas stations were closed, people didn’t have gas or cars weren’t able to get far. And some were hanging out expecting the evac to lift soon.
“The shelter did not allow animals and many had animals. We ended up going direct vehicle to vehicle. We noticed a serious lack of tech and tech know how.
“The red cross and county employees were at the shelter. Had gift cards for those who lost. Had pizza and water and the public health nurse checking on people.
“Many of the people in cars were on oxygen and needed more. They had to go to the hospital when they ran out. ”
So far our radio listeners have not heard from the District Supervisor for that area, Moke Simon, who is the chair of the Risk Reduction Authority and who is Governor Newsom’s appointee to the state Fire Board and at this point otherwise occupied. Also pending is a live report from the Lake County Sheriff, who had time to be featured on mainstream television but not news outlets.
Stay safe out there: wear a mask, wash your hands, and for fucks sake do not start a fire. Thank you.