Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

June 27, 2006 > Wildfire in the hills of Fremont

Wildfire in the hills of Fremont

by James W. Gearhart

Watching the winds fan the flames on Fremont's ridge tops and canyons was frightening. This inferno paralleled Morrison Canyon Road in the rugged hills and canyon areas. Mutual Aid was called at 6 p.m. that evening (Tuesday, June 20). The response to the out-of-control flames soon tamed and destroyed the fire with precision, timing and skill. Those responding included:

California Department of Forestry (CDF): Battalion Chiefs Mike Stonurn and Dave Athey with two tanker planes (Hollister Station) of fire retardant that slowed flames from advancing; two helicopters (Los Gatos Station) with baskets of water from Quarry Lakes; six four-wheel drive fire engines (Sunol); two hand crews totaling over 35 firefighters; and four bulldozers (Sunol, Morgan Hill, Felton and Belmont stations).

Fremont Fire Department (City of Fremont): At the Command Post in the surveillance van were Chief Larry Anderson, Steve Silva and Doug McKelvey; three four-wheel drive fire engines; four land crews (18 each) with water hoses, etc.

East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Captain Bryan Corderio: A water tender to supply four-wheel drive fire engines; two four-wheel drive fire engines; a helicopter with water bucket and a spotting plane.

Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department: Two four-wheel drive fire engines.

Union City Fire Department: One four-wheel drive fire engine.

Alameda County Fire Department: two four-wheel drive fire engines.

This "symphony" of fire-fighting moved through the night with sounds and lights of bulldozers cutting a fire-line to halt the blaze. In less than two hours, all that remained of 50 acres were charred hillsides and canyon land - approximately 50 percent EBRPD lands and 50 percent private property. It could have been so much worse! The outstanding achievement of preventing a catastrophe was accomplished by top notch coordination between all the fire agencies mentioned above.

The timely and successful response by these brave firefighters deserves a standing ovation. This is only the beginning of our fire season but this incident serves to remind us of dangerous conditions including dry grasses on the hillsides and the potential for disastrous consequences if restrictions - and closures, if necessary - are not enforced along our access roads of Mill Creek, Morrison Canyon and Niles Canyon. We need to pay attention to fire prevention and alert to the potential of deadly, dangerous and costly wildfires.

A grateful Fremont citizen,

James W. Gearhart, M.D.

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