This is what I caught from the notes from the meeting this evening.
As soon as the post the video, I’ll run it through a transcript processor and update this page.
As always, please leave comments below.
to be quickly responsive to those calls for evacuation. We know that many of you also evacuated when you were in the SET stage.
That, I cannot tell you how much comfort that gives for our first responders to know that that community, that at-risk, that folks have left their homes, as hard of a decision as that is to make. Our first responders feel that sense of relief, knowing that they are concerned with the structures, but we know if your lives are protected, that absolutely hits their heart.
We also — as Sheriff Rhodes mentioned, the fact that you have evacuated or if you have not been called to evacuate yet, but that call does come in, the sooner that you are able to do that, the sooner those roads are cleared for our emergency responders to be able to head towards the fire.
You all know this country very well. You know that we don’t have a ton of roads in this part of the country, and not all of them are great. And so we want to make sure first and foremost, those roads are open for you to evacuate before we start coming in. So just know we appreciate that very much.
With that, I want to also acknowledge the Prescott National Forest Closure Area. This fire started on Monday and by Tuesday morning, 6:00 am, we had a large forest closure area in place. A lot of that was to facilitate exactly what we are talking about now. We started asking folks that were in our developed and dispersed camp sites to please evacuate. We looked at our day sites and asked people to leave those areas. And the reason for that is because if we do get to that place of evacuation, we want to make sure that at that point, we’re only evacuating residents and we have forest visitors already out of the way. And again, it also, of course, is for community protection, even though the closure area is much larger right now than the fire footprint. We want to make sure we are not trying to figure out where all of our visiting public, reck rating public is if that fire starts to move towards those recreations, those recreation areas, those popular trails.
That closure area is in effect right now and we are going to continue to monitor the situation, and do know that if there is a time that we feel it is appropriate to shrink that closure and let folks in to some of their favorite recreation areas, we will do that. We are not there at this time. But know that that’s why that is there. It is for your protection, it is for residents’s protection, it is for our first responder protection. We will absolutely be monitoring that situation.
Again, just thank you to all of you. This is our community as well. You all know that difficult terrain. You know how dense the vegetation is. You know how this is something that we know is a possibility here in Prescott and we’re going to do everything we can for the best possible outcome, but for us, everybody’s health and safety is the most critical.
So Jake, with Arizona Department Of Forestry and Fire Management, anything you’d like to add?
>> JAKE: Just want to echo the fact that we have a great partnership with the Forest Service and low cooperators.
Just a bit about myself, the first — there is a sense of ownership that I have personally as well as the other folks out there fighting that fire.
I want to thank Team 4 for coming in and assisting us during this emergency. We have nothing but the utmost confidence in your folks’ ability. From the State’s perspective, there will be clear communication with the residents as new information comes out. Our hearts go out to you that you have been displaced. We see it far too many times, not just here, but everywhere. The commitment team has made, as soon as the opportunity is right, when it is safe, you’ll be back in your residence. And that’s a commitment we make to you folks. Thank you.
>> Thank you very much to both our agency administrators.
Last up of our speakers this evening before we go to that Q & A session, our Incident Commander For Team, Incident Commander Rocky Opliger.
>> ROCKY: Yes, I’m Rocky Opliger, incident commander for California interagency incident management team 4. We are one of 16 national teams recognized throughout the United States. The team basically is organized of 58 men and women that have specific jobs and tasks to help manage large disasters and incidents, such as wildfires.
Arizona, New Mexico has two of their Type 1 incident management teams. Know many of the folks that work on the teams and they have been heavily engaged on large fires already, committed to fires in New Mexico and a new fire in Flagstaff that they are working on.
Can’t say enough about the sheriff and law enforcement. You know, 49 years in fire fighting, I can always put a fire shirt on and we are loved and beloved for the job that we do and often time our law enforcement are the one that we remember the last time we got a ticket or something. And so when I look at those folks and the incredible job they do, especially when you have to evacuate — that is never easy. My sympathy and heart goes out to those evacuated.
Last year my family was evacuated while I was on a fire. My wife is a firefighter, she was fighting the fire. You know the impacts. It is real.
Our number one priority is community, public safety and firefighters and emergency responders. It is difficult terrain out there. It’s been unprecedented what we have seen throughout the United States the last ten years or so with the kind of fire behavior we are experiencing. This is very early to have this kind of fire behavior. We are worried about the wind that is are coming, but amazing job. I can’t say enough about both the relationships that we have experienced walking in here that’s been established between state, federal, local government. The cooperators and the folks that started the official attack on this fire and the Type 3 local incident management team that came in.
We were notified the evening this fire started. It is a lot to get a team mobilized. We got called late Monday night. By Monday morning folks were already on the road. We have folks traveling as far as Northern California and there is restrictions how many hours they can drive. We had the team in place yesterday to have an evening briefing to be able to transition at officially 1800, or 6:00 this evening, we transitioned to managing the fire.
On behalf of our team, I want to thank you for being here. Those online, getting the latest information, I’m just pleased that people are here to work together.
And in closing, the reminder to me is that this fire is being managed 24 hours. We have young men and women out there day and night, that will be managing the fire. And often remind myself when I was that young and my kids that are both firemen, that do that, that is what we need to remember. Thank if folks that are working hard. Many of them from out of the area. Many local because they live here and want to provide that. It is a reminder that those are the folks that deserve the thanks for the hard work and effort they do. Thank you.
>> All right, thank you very much, Chief.
So now we come to our Q & A session. I have probably about 40 minutes and I kind of guesstimate there is 80 of you in here. If you have a question, which you probably do, and hopefully you do, that is — hold on a minute. Hold on. That is probably two hours worth of questions. So I have a process that I like to share with you of how we’re going to do this. And I like to try to facilitate some of your guidelines.
Do you have any guidelines you’d like for me to keep everybody on track with? If you don’t, I can make a couple suggestions that have come from past meetings. One is one question per person, and then to the next person. Fair enough? I see some nods. Yeah.
No repeat questions as much as possible. If you don’t understand it, we can always have a sidebar afterwards. Is that fair as well? Something you want me to manage for you. It just keeps the ball rolling really quickly so we get through everything.
Here is what I’m going to suggest. We have kind of three groups. I have some Internet folks over there if we are still engaged. No Internet. That makes my life easier.
I have this half of the room, and I have this half of the room. And I have some people with microphones who can get your questions. So what I’d like to suggest — I know you had your hand up. But what I’d like to suggest, if we start first three people from this side and then this side, and then we’ll flip-flop back and forward until we run out of time or answer all the questions. How does that sound?
>> Good, love it. Great.
So first three people, this side. All right, one, two. We’ll hold that for you.
>> Thank you for your sacrifices.
My question is, are utilities shut down in the communities that are put on SET as far as the electrical being able to supply ranch equipment, or wells in those areas? Is utilities being shut down? Is that a priority for you on the ground?
>> That is a good question. We have a representative, I’m thinking, from from APS. The question basically was when we’re in a set position, a ready, set position, is there still utility power to the ranches, et cetera.
>> I’m the Northern Arizona Division Director for APS. Great question. Our outage map has updates on power that is out in the area. There are currently 32 customers out and that’s inclusive of commercial and residential customers.
We de-energize lines sometimes at the direction of the Fire IC for the protection and safety of those fighting the fires. We don’t do that all the time. We don’t do that across the board. We specifically have de-energized a section of line, 32 customers just where the impact is in order to protect the firefighters fighting that area. So to your point, no. We are not de-energizing line in SET. We are working with Fire IC and de-energizing line as it is impacted or sectionalizing sections to change the impact area. Does that answer your question?
>> It does, thank you.
>> Thank you very much. And this gentleman here.
>> Aside from “get out of the way” is there anything the residents can do to be helpful.
>> The question is, is there any preparatory work that residents can do to help us with firefighting? I’d love to answer it, but I’m not allowed.
>> I can get started on that. Most of the work would occur prior to the fire even entering the area. We really encourage all residents to provide as much defensible space as possible to make their structure, as we say, hardened to fires as possible. To make sure your eaves respect open, large toxic materials, flammable materials locked up in proper storage. The more defendable your structure is, that gives us the most opportunity to go in and be successful in defending that area. Any work you can do ahead of time to help us with any of that type of work is super beneficial. Like I said, that is often years before the fire ever shows up, but we appreciate all of that work.
>> Just what I was going to say. Thank you.
So what I’m going to do —
>> We have one more over here.
>> Next time over. Next time. Next time. I did, but I only had two. I know we had one lady over here. Two more people. We’ll get back over there. Don’t worry. Just one person over here. Anything over here because you are part of this group.
No? Okay. Just one. Thank you.
>> Can you give us any kind of idea how long we are looking at before we get to go back home? Anything? Can you give us anything so we have even a glimmer of hope?
>> The question is, do we have any idea of a time span, how long we are looking to fight this fire and when can people go back to their homes?
>> That’s always a great question. I guarantee you that we are making every effort as soon as we possibly can. Close coordination with all the agencies, especially law enforcement on reentry. But right now we are on the whims of weather. We are really concerned about the winds come in, wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. That was this morning when we had the weather brief and that is throughout Arizona. Those are probably the most important things. We have to take a look at the weather, how long the duration of the weather and then what is the fire behavior, what it is going to do when it is influenced by that weather, WHAND efforts the firefighters are making. I can tell you every effort is being made. It’s been amazing the progress we made today given the weather yesterday. We have a difficult day coming up starting tomorrow evening. We’ll talk about future community meetings, but right now we are focusing on the weather, emergency responder safety. As soon as we can, we want to get you back in to your residence.
>> I appreciate you had a question, but it will — if all the sudden ten more hand go up, I have broken my rules for you guys. We have one question. Is there anymore questions for you guys on this side. Two, three.
>> I’m residents of Upper Blue Hills in Dewey. We haven’t been evacuated yet. I had heard something, maybe you can give clarification because it is hearsay. I heard something about Code Red being down. So that’s one of my concerns.
Second was I heard the Ready, Set, Go protocol or procedure was not used. It was just a “go” state for smaller communities in Potato Patch or Breezy Pines. I don’t know if that is true or not.
>> There is a lot of hearsay going on. Being a caregiver of a disabled wife, it just kind of concerned me that I didn’t have the ability to prepare as much as I’d like. Thank you. And thank all of you for your help during this crisis. We do appreciate your work.
>> Thank you. I’m going to summarize that quickly because you had a couple points and I want to make sure I covered everything for you.
One is rumor control about the availability of Code Red, is it up or down?
And possibly why there was a reason it goes direct to Go, instead of the Ready, Set, Go protocols.
>> Those are great questions. Code Red is functioning properly. There was a short period of time on Monday when it did not function properly and they were doing maintenance on it, which happened to be at the time the wildfire broke out. Boy, that’s Murphy’s Law, right? But it is working correctly now. That is the notification system that we have, so make sure you’re signed up for it. There are other ways, though.
Remember, if you watch Facebook or the media or you will see people come into your residence if it is a Go status.
Another question about why is it sometimes just a Go? And we have three stages of evacuation. Ready, Set, Go. You’re hearing a lot about that being brought up. Ready is basically a general notification that there’s fire in the area, you don’t need to evacuate, but be aware and start making preparations and have plan about where to go if you had to evacuate.
Set is it’s kind of coming your direction a little bit. We’re worried. We want you to make preparations so that you can go in a quick status.
“Go” means you need to get out, you need to evacuate. Depending on where the fire is or where it starts or what happens — you know, if a fire starts next to your house, you’re in a “Go” status immediately. We don’t have time for Ready, Set Go. And that is what happened with some of the people in Walker and Potato Patch. That thing got started very quickly, it’s right there, there is limited access out of there and we just got to start getting people out. So that’s how that happened. And it’s — it’s inexact sometimes. So just be paying attention and bear with us. We’ll get the information to you as quick as we have it. Did I answer your question?
>> Thank you very much. Question number two.
>> I realize that it transitioned from a Type 3 to Type 1 team. There was a resource order that was successful. At what point do we get federal funding, or is it federal now?
>> The question is for the fire or the owners?
>> The resources, the teams —
>> Federal funding for us being here, doing what we are doing? Okay.
>> I’m going to do my best to answer your question. So the fire started on federal land. Automatically, it is a fire that starts off as being funded with federal money.
However, we are in joint delegation with the State of Arizona and so we work hand in hand with the process regarding how are we going to divide that cost. We have a shared interest in protecting the landscape and the communities, and so we have a very in depth discussion on a daily basis about how those costs will be divided.
Jake, did you want to talk at all about (indiscernible).
>> Briefly. There is certain criteria that a fire or community has to reach in order for the state to hit an FMAG, which is structure strength is one of those points. Once we get an FMAG in place we get federal funding however, at the same time, the state has funding in our fire fund that we are using to pay for the costs with the Feds right now.
>> The money is there.
>> Yeah, I just want — that comment I just heard you say, I want to make it clear that we are not concerned about funding limiting our ability to manage this fire at the appropriate levels. So please don’t let any concerns about whether or not we are funded appropriately worry you. We have the resources we need from a funding standpoint.
I do want to acknowledge that from a resource standpoint in terms of firefighting crews and equipment, that we are going to be resource-limited in that way because of the fire activity right now in the region and also, time of season. I mean, as you heard, this is an early time of year for us to have this type of fire activity in the Southwest. Even in Arizona, New Mexico where we are seeing lot of fire activity right now, we don’t have all of the firefighting resources we’d typically have if this was even three weeks from now.
So we’re all seeing unusual activity. We are certainly prepared for that and we have recognized that we have very dry conditions and very high wind out there, but just know that the funding is not going to be a limitation, but we certainly are concerned about competition for those physical resources on the ground and in the air.
>> Thank you. And our third question from this section. Yes, sir.
>> We live up on Big Bug Mesa Road. Who do we coordinate with to gain access up there to collect really what it is is medicines for our elderly mother?
>> So the question is, regarding access to particular area — I didn’t catch it — access to gather personal belongings, medicines, whatever.
>> So I’m going to find out exactly where we can — you can make these communications to the sheriff’s office and we can work on scheduling an escort up to get some of these things.
Now, bear in mind this is all predicated on safety. If the fire is in a canyon there at Breezy Pines, we are not going up there, obviously. So there’s not a guarantee we can get you up there. If we can, we will. I’m going to let Lieutenant Johnson answer that question.
>> Thank you for your question.
So, again, if you can contact the sheriff’s office directly and this is, again, very dependent on fire behavior. We work with operations from the Fire Incident Management Team and a lot of it will be predicated on the access conditions in. It is a single, narrow dirt road in and your area is a little remote and fire tells us, hey, we are in there with heavy equipment, then it is probably not something we are going to be able to accommodate. But certain circumstances, depending on what they are doing operationally because in the event of a fire, we have to get them and you out safely. We are putting a lot of lives in danger.
Contact the sheriff’s office. Based on conditions tomorrow, we can look at that. I have a very limited capacity to do escorts because we are out there doing roadblocks, out there actively patrolling the neighborhoods and escorts are incredibly resource intensive because I’m taking a deputy off their other duties for a long periods of time to drive with somebody all the way in, wait, and drive all the way out. It is incredibly resource intensive for us. We have to be in constant communication with fire and then based on weather it can get cut off immediately.
And then the other thing with respect to medications is most pharmacies, if you go to a pharmacy and explain the situation — everybody knows what is going on right now — they can give you a short, limited emergency supply of your medication. You can also work with your health care provider to get a preplacement script. Your health care provider knows what is going on. They’ll have a record of your prescription and they can accommodate and give you an emergency refill.
That is probably the best answer for most of you. Again, we try to help people, especially if it is something like pets, we are very attuned to that. If something like medicine, you can contact the sheriff’s office tomorrow.
>> That answer your question?
>> Thank you. We’re going to swing back over to this side. I know there is one question. Three hands. Number one, number two. Anything else over here. Ma’am, your question first.
>> Yes, my name is Julie, I live in the Mountain Club. I’m wondering where I’m at in this Ready, Set, Go. Should I pack up? There is not a lot of time from a knock on the door there is no time until you tell us it is time to go. What should I be doing right now?
>> The question is, what is the status of your Ready Set Go in the area you live in which was —
>> The Mountain Club.
>> The Mountain Club area.
>> Mountain is — you’re talking about south side of Prescott. That’s not a part of a Ready Set Go at this time. You’re — it’s a long ways from there. Groom Creek, I believe is in set status at this time, which is up Senator Highway, where the camps are, all that area, in a Set status. But that is far in this direction as we have gotten with the Set status is Groom Creek.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you. Yes, sir.
>> I’m a full-time residents in Potato Patch. My question is, have there been structures lost, how many, and where at?
>> The question is, has there been any structure loss so far on this fire, and if possible, do we know where they are?
>> Right now we don’t have any confirmation of structure loss, so we will be out there looking in the areas. Fire hasn’t reached that Potato Patch area. We don’t have any confirmed structure loss, but we’ll be out there taking a look to make sure there haven’t been any out buildings or anything destroyed.
>> All right, so you see how this is going. I’m going to come back to this side. Any questions on this side? Three hands. Anything at the back there? Okay, just one.
>> Hi, I have a place in Breezy Pines and I see the fire right now. It’s next to the Five Points intersection. And it seems to me — where my cabin is — that wind seems to funnel down in that canyon that follows the Big Bug and I was wondering if there was any extra precautions being taken at that Five Points area to kind of stem that fire from getting into that canyon.
>> So your question is, what kind or type of mitigations, operations, plan do we have in place for the Five Points area?
>> Right. It’s — like I said, it seems to me — it might be breezy in the area around there, where my cabin is. But once you get down into that canyon it seems like the wind picks up. I’m afraid —
>> Yeah, we have definitely noticed — and talking to the local firefighters in the area, we have areas where the winds funnel, especially under certain flows like southwest flows that they’ll pick up an line certain drainages, so today additional resources were moved into the Five Points area and that is where they started with the dozer working to the south and hand crews to the north. They are trying to reinforce the line to make sure it doesn’t slob over the road system there. They are doing everything they can in that area to help prevent any northerly or easterly progression with the resources we have available.
>> Thank you. All right. Now, coming to this side, I have one. Anything in the back. Okay, just one question, sir.
>> Walker is spread out on Walker Road for a long ways, few miles. 10, 15 to Potato Patch. You know, Walker kind of drops off and goes to Breezy Pines and Potato Patch and whatever.
So far Potato Patch is good. So far Breezy Pines is good. I’d like to know why, first of all, we were evacuated with a Go. It’s been explained, I understand that.
And why it was so early.
>> So the question is in the area of Breezy Pines, Potato Patch, why did we get an early notification to evacuate —
>> What did I say? Breezy Pines, Walker and Potato Patch. Why was the warning to evacuate so early?
>> Show us on the map where they are at.
>> Can we answer that?
>> So with the fire originally started over here on the back towards Palace Station, moving sort of northeast, north. It gets right there on — I didn’t see who asked the question. It gets right there on top of the mountain, and if it is going to come over the mountain into Potato Patch and then down, we’re pulling all resources out of there. Nobody’s going to be in that canyon. No firefighters, not going to be any law enforcement, there’s not going to be any volunteers, not going to be anybody to help you guys. And it was right there. And it still is. Right there on top of the mountain. It was very, very close to coming over the top. So that was a decision that was made in cooperation with the Incident Command Team at the time, the Type 1 team and the sheriff’s office executive staff. But that was the safest thing for even that was living in Walker and still is at this moment. That is why that decision was made.
>> Thank you, sheriff. We’ll go — again, to the left side. Any questions? Down the center aisle? Did I see a hand over here? So one over here. Anybody else on this section? One in the very far back corner.
>> I appreciate all your help. I want to know what type of resources you’re looking for now for the evacuation center, people that are down there, businesses in the community. How can we help what is going on right now.
>> Is there any possibility for —
>> (Off mic) a couple centers are taking pets. If you need resources, what resources are you looking for?
>> The bigger question is, what resources are we as an organization looking for to help with those other folks that have been evacuated, et cetera.
>> Even if it is feeding the firefighters on the line or people in the evacuation center.
>> Okay. We are — I’m going to introduce you real quick to our emergency manager. She is, among other things, running the evacuation center. I’ll have her answer the question.
>> Thank you. So there is actually couple ways you can help out. The Red Cross is at Yavapai College running that shelter. They are looking for meals and water. We have animal services at the Red Cross on Washington. They are in need or food and water for animals.
We have LASER off the racetrack off 89A.
>> We’re good.
>> You’re good? Okay. So those are ways you can help and we definitely appreciate that. Thank you.
>> Brilliant. Thank you very much. And right at the very back there.
>> I missed that. Could you please repeat it?
>> You had the same question for what help can be given? There’s lots of help that can be given. I’ll give you back to Ashley to recap that quickly.
>> Okay. So what we can do is at the American Red Cross, the shelter is at Yavapai College. They are looking at food to feed the evacuees, as well as water. That is very helpful. We have Animal Disaster Services at the Red Cross office on Washington, fairly close to the college. They are looking for animal food and water as well.
>> Right now I haven’t heard of any need for volunteer, but I know the American Red Cross is always looking for volunteers, but that is a process to get trained. If you are interested in the future, get in contact with them and you can help out. Okay?
>> So back over to this side, just one? Two, three. The lady, the gentleman and the other gentleman.
>> Okay, I was just going to tell you, I’m a past shelter manager disaster captain for the Red Cross for many years and running the shelters. Please, when you talk about food, make sure that whatever you bring is commercially prepared food that is fully wrapped so that no one is touching anyone else’s food. This is years before COVID so these are standard rules. Because if we don’t mention that along with bringing food, my experience is that in the middle of the night running the shelter, trucks show up where women have cooked all day, made sandwiches, they are so thrilled, or they brought in casseroles and everything else. We cannot touch it. We cannot take it in. So please, work on a commercial basis. We would call pizza places, commercial stores, and they usually are more than willing to bring in the additional foods that we need. The Salvation Army and different (indiscernible) and other groups from Phoenix come up and the Red Cross coordinates for them with certain meals. And when they are no longer able to help us or it is too slow, then the commercial entities — Starbucks would always supply us with huge containers of coffee everyday.
Please, work with your commercial groups. Maybe you are commercial. But make sure the community doesn’t misunderstand that because so much food goes to waste.
>> That’s great. Thank you. My takeaway from that — that was more information — is work with those entities. If you want to supply or help Red Cross, get in touch with them directly and let them guide you as to how you can help.
That gentleman, where you are. And then we’ll come back to you, sir.
>> Do they know what caused the fire?
>> Question was, do we know what caused the fire?
>> So I think you all are aware that we have nothad any lightening, much less rain in the area any time soon, so all we can tell you for certain is that it was — let me not just say for certain, but likely human-caused. I think the only other thing aside from human is an elk kicked a rock and it caused a spark. But point being, we are likely sure to say it is human caused. We immediately had a law enforcement officer on scene to begin the vest — he is a fire investigator qualified doing, gathering data for investigation. We do not have any information at this time. Investigation is ongoing. And that is the honest truth. That is all we know. Officer Hughes, do you want to come up? This is our captain.
>> Hi guys, how we doing? I don’t have much to say on top of that. All I want you to know is that we do have a regional investigation team scheduled to come in on Friday. The investigation coming on Thursday, starting the investigation on Friday, a special agent along with a couple other folks with the regional team. I hope we find something. We have a general idea where it started, but we don’t know what started it yet. Obviously most likely it is going to be human caused. But as soon as we find out, you’ll be the first to know. Thanks.
>> All right, thanks you.
>> I know you mentioned starting — I think tomorrow night — I’m having a hard time remember what day of the week it is — that the weather is — the wind is supposed to pick up. But how long — do you have, like, a medium, what you think as far as whether the effects it is going to have on fire, when it is going to improve, etc.?
>> So the question is regarding weather and how it affects the fire growth, et cetera and how we fight that fire.
>> Do you have an outlook over the next few days of whether it will be an improving situation, less winds, higher humidity, et cetera.
>> I’m glad I clarified that. The question is, do we have weather outlook and how that will affect the area in the fire.
>> That is a great question. Probably why I’m not a weather person. You know, we know that we do have winds coming in. We saw the gradients this morning on a weather brief and we are looking Thursday into Friday. After that, looks like we get better conditions. We have made a request for an incident meteorologist to come out and work directly with the type. That is a common protocol. We also have fire behavior analyst that is coming in to work with the firefighters so we can anticipate the kind of fire behavior we’ll experience. Right now we have at least Thursday into Friday and looks like conditions get better after that. We haven’t looked long-term. We’ll look at the anomalies, but right now the wind gradient is there and it is going to affect us tomorrow into Friday.
>> Thank you, Chief. Coming back over, we have one. Anything over here.
>> My wife and I are transplants from Northern California. We lost our home in a fire storm in the Oakland area a number of years ago, which was a disaster that was totally unorganized and we are now living here in Prescott. Fortunately, at this point, we are not in the danger zone. But my concern is that having seen the efforts that didn’t take place in Oakland, California, and the disaster that ensued. I’m very happy to see the coordination of all the groups here. I think it is very impressive.
But my concern also has to do with maybe not just this fire, but long range for the whole season, water resources. Where do you get your water to fight the fires? Are you using lake water for drops? Is it water primarily or are you using other chemical forms of fire fighting. And what can the average citizen do to conserve — we are in drought. I think we all realize how important water is here.
>> Right. So the question is, I think is, what are we using to fight the fire, ie, water, chemicals we use, and what can residents do to conserve water to make it go further.
>> So get started on that. Very familiar with the Open Hills fires. I grew up in that area as well. Just wanted to say that for water we utilize any water sources that are available, so if you have access to fire hydrants, city water, we will do that. We will talk to the city prior to. We’ll have agreements in place to make sure we are only utilizing the appropriate amount of water. We don’t want to suck anybody’s wells dry or impact the community by using too much water. We make sure we are talking to individuals that are running the water supplies. If we are utilizing water supplies on private land we’ll talk to those homeowners. We’ll have agreements in place prior to utilizing any of that water.
The only exception to that is in an absolute emergency where we see life or property being threatened, we may use the water source to save a person’s life and property and follow up with an agreement after that.
We also use retardant in our fixed-wing aircraft, which is a mixture of a chemical, basically a fertilizer and water, that is put on the ground, which is the pink, red-colored material that you’ll see. It lasts longer than just water use. But we do use the water that we feel is necessary to put out the fire.
>> Are you also using the lakes or water drop?
>> Yeah, we can — we do utilize different lakes and water sources for our helicopters and bucket drops. I can let the Forest Service representatives talk a little more about that. But we do utilize those as well.
>> I wanted to follow up specifically for this location. We have agreements with a lot of local entities, including City of Prescott to take water out of Watson Lake, Goldwater Lake. Am I missing —
>> Lynx Lake.
>> Lynx Lake, Forest Lake. We put agreements in place in advance and then if there are water sources that are closest to the fire where we think they’d be most beneficial, if we don’t have agreements in place, we have the ability put those agreements in place right away.
Sheriff, you prompted me to answer a question about the Fire Center? I guess maybe a tanker base?
>> I don’t think a lot of people know we have tanker base.
>> So Prescott National Forest co-located at the Prescott Airport also has a tanker base so we are able to host large aircraft, tankers, helicopters. So just in terms of actual air resources you need to get access to that water or retardant, we have a facility here that is well-poised.
And also, aircrafts come from all over the general area. You’d be surprised how quickly they can get here. We have different types of aircraft with different types of capabilities for getting water from lakes from buckets, or hoses. There’s just all sorts of different type of aircraft.
I think the short answer to your question is, question, absolutely. Water conservation is important for all sorts of reason, short and long-term. But do know when we need water and it is close by, we absolutely work in advance pre-season to have as many agreements in place as possible, but we can absolutely get them in place very quickly if we don’t have one and need one for a fire at the time.
>> Thank you. We are just about over time and my last thing I like to do is do a quick scan of the room for those real important, buggy questions. I know you had your hand up. I’ll take one, maybe two. You have a question?
>> I do.
>> Anybody else across the room? Yes, sir.
>> I was wondering at what wind speed do the aircraft get grounded and will they be flying tomorrow?
>> Question about grounding aircraft due to wind speed.
>> So it’s going to depends on the aircraft, the type of helicopter, the size and type of fixed-wing, but general rule of thumb we use is 30 miles per hour grounds aircraft. They are predicted wind speeds that will ground aircraft tomorrow, tomorrow evening into Friday. Depending on when the winds surface, it will limit our aircraft use.
>> I’m going to ask you to stay here, Kyle. I want to prompt this other thing.
A lot of folks often ask questions if we’re getting enough aircraft and why we aren’t making more drops. I want to make sure folks know that water isn’t always effective and fire retardant isn’t always effective. I thought you could talk about when water or fire retardant would be effective. If you don’t see a dropping, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be using it and aren’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t have it. It likely means we just don’t think it will be effective and it puts firefighters at risk to put them up in aircraft as well.
>> We use aircraft in areas we feel we’ll be successful. We have to realize there is a risk every time a pilot goes up in one of those helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft. So what we are doing is the fire fighters on the ground are looking for areas where we can feel we have a high probability of success where the fire behavior is such a manner that that water or those chemicals will be effective in slowing the spread of the fire. It’s often misconstrued that aircraft put out fires. Aircraft do not put out fires. They help slow the rate of spread fires minimize fire behavior so firefighters can go on the ground and put out the fire and mop up the fire, put in a hand line that is needed to suppress the fire fully. We look for the areas that will be successful and we feel we can get the ground troops in successfully. We aren’t just going to put a bunch of retardant out on a ridge in the middle of nowhere where our firefighters won’t be able to get out there and be successful. We are looking for areas to get in to and make positive changes on the fire and put the fire out.
>> Thank you. There was one question over here, yeah.
>> I have been watching around. There are quite a few fires going around in the Southwest area right now. I was wondering, do we have enough manpower to deal with all these fires effectively?
>> The question is, do we have sufficient resources to deal with all the fires in this region that are currently burning?
>> I’ll give it my best answer here. Short answer is, we’re always limited in fire fighting resource. When there is one fire, two fires, we’re usually really successful in the number of fires. As previously mentioned, this is a very, very early start for the region here. California has over 300 engines. Those are not available yet because they haven’t come on yet. There are some from the Pacific Northwest that aren’t available yet. There is always some form of limitation or time delay, but we have been working closely and getting resource orders filled. There is always going to be some impact of not having enough people. So just to be clear on that, but we are working closely. We are seeing an increase in resources for this fire in particular. And we are expecting to see increased resources over the next few days.
>> By my watch, we are about seven minutes over. Having said that, we need to get the IC back and we have work to do.
I do have some information officers that are here. I know we do have some representatives here from different agencies who will stand behind and maybe answer those questions or have an opportunity to give some one-on-one with you and hopefully you can get to understand the challenges that we face.
With that said, once again, thank you for our host for this evening. Thank you for you guys showing up and being here. We did record it. We will be putting it out on all our social medias. My team’s job is to make sure you get accurate and timely information. Pay attention to those Facebook pages with the sheriff or the forest, those official pages. We are also building a YouTube channel for you to go in and ask questions of us as well. That will be there assigned to this fire. All of those will be available for you over the coming days. We’ll have information officers out in the public. Please stop, ask questions, and with that said, thank you once again. Have a good evening and travel safely home. We’ll see you again. Thank you.
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