Hotshots come to Patterson's aid
by Elias Funez
Jul 30, 2014 | 3195 views | 2 2 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of two S-2 air-tankers out of Hollister makes a drop of bright orange fire retardant on Tuesday afternoon's wildfire that broke out along the shoulder of I-5 burning about 15 acres.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
One of two S-2 air-tankers out of Hollister makes a drop of bright orange fire retardant on Tuesday afternoon's wildfire that broke out along the shoulder of I-5 burning about 15 acres.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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A Cal-Fire firefighter sprays water onto the charred hillside during Tuesday afternoon's fire while a U.S. National Forest service hotshot firefighter lends a hand with the hose.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
A Cal-Fire firefighter sprays water onto the charred hillside during Tuesday afternoon's fire while a U.S. National Forest service hotshot firefighter lends a hand with the hose.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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A group from the 20 man Bear Divide Hotshot crew based out of Santa Clarita California makes sure everything burning is extinguished as they walk back to their transports during Tuesday afternoon's fire.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
A group from the 20 man Bear Divide Hotshot crew based out of Santa Clarita California makes sure everything burning is extinguished as they walk back to their transports during Tuesday afternoon's fire.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Patterson/West Stanislaus Division Chief of Operations Jeff Breasher (right) and West Stanislaus' Brush No. 1 engine situate themselves near the burning peach orchard to help fight the fire that burned approximately 15 acres during Tuesday afternoon's fire.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Patterson/West Stanislaus Division Chief of Operations Jeff Breasher (right) and West Stanislaus' Brush No. 1 engine situate themselves near the burning peach orchard to help fight the fire that burned approximately 15 acres during Tuesday afternoon's fire.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Fence posts bordering Jeff Arambel's peach orchard and the Interstate 5 corridor, smolder in the 100 degree heat after Tuesday afternoon's wildland fire swept through.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Fence posts bordering Jeff Arambel's peach orchard and the Interstate 5 corridor, smolder in the 100 degree heat after Tuesday afternoon's wildland fire swept through.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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A group of Bear Divide Hotshots work to suppress the flames from Tuesday's fire on the edge of one of Jeff Arambel's rangeland orchards.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
A group of Bear Divide Hotshots work to suppress the flames from Tuesday's fire on the edge of one of Jeff Arambel's rangeland orchards.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Traffic backs up on southbound Interstate 5 while firefighters clean up hotspots left on the hillside following Tuesday afternoon's wildland fire in the hills directly west of Patterson.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Traffic backs up on southbound Interstate 5 while firefighters clean up hotspots left on the hillside following Tuesday afternoon's wildland fire in the hills directly west of Patterson.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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A crew of roughly 20 hotshot firefighters that make up the Bear Divide Hotshots from Santa Clarita, were on their way home from fighting the Sand Fire burning in the El Dorado National Forest, when they saw smoke and fire coming from the hills to the west of Patterson’s city limits and decided to stop and help fight the fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon, July 29.

The crew had left a week earlier for Washington to train 1,000 National Guardsmen before they were diverted to Lake Tahoe to tend to fires that had started from lightning strikes. Eventually the hotshots were called to work on the Sand Fire, which has burned over 4,240 acres in Amador County since the fire started Friday July, 25.

The Angeles National Forest-based hotshot crew was driving southbound on I-5 when crew member John King saw smoke ahead.

“I called out to the crew, ‘Wake up, boys. There’s smoke ahead,’” said King.

The crew pulled over and jumped on the vegetation fire that had quickly moved up the west side of the interstate and into a section of peach orchard owned by Jeff Arambel.

The hand crew used chainsaws to cut down some of the dwarfed peach trees that caught fire, as well as used other hand tools to help gain control of the fire. The orchard, which recently was converted from rangeland, was unkempt, and the weeds that grew in the place of the former rangeland provided ample fuel for the fire to spread quickly in Tuesday afternoon’s 100-degree heat.

“This orchard is so dirty we’ll be out here for a while cleaning up hot spots,” Patterson and West Stanislaus Division Chief of Operations Jeff Breasher said while the fire burned nearby.

A total of 10 engines and a dozer were on scene between the Cal-Fire and Patterson/West Stanislaus fire agencies. A pair of S-2 air-tankers and an air tactical support plane out of Hollister were also called in to strategically drop loads of bright red fire retardant in the path of the moving conflagration, according to Morgan Hill based Cal-Fire incident commander Jim Rajskup.

The fire, which started around 4:30 p.m., backed up traffic along southbound I-5 for miles as fire crews worked to keep the burn within 15 acres, and had the fire under control after about an hour.

Hotshots are specially trained in wildfire firefighting and are considered an elite group amongst wildland firefighters due to their extensive training, high demand for physical fitness and their ability to undertake dangerous and difficult assignments.

Hotshot crews are often called in during large, high priority fires and are trained to work in remote locations for extended periods of time with very little tactical support.

The cause of Tuesday’s fire has yet to be determined and is still under investigation.

Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 ext: 31 or elias@pattersonirrigator.com.
Comments
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navpat1
|
August 01, 2014
Seems Jeff's attempt to get his land annexed to the City was only partially successful. The attempt to improve his land value with the peach orchard - not so much. Will he be required to pay any part of the cost of fighting the fire? We don't think so.
Patterson2010
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August 02, 2014
How was his annexation attempt only partially successful? His team was able to get LAFCO board members to approve his annexation request despite LAFCO's staff recommending the board deny the request. He also was able to get the City of Patterson to include over 200 acres of land West of Hwy 5 in its latest general plan revision despite the fact that the City Community Development Director and the City's own General Plan Consultant recommended leaving that land out of the General Plan. On top of that, he was able to even get the zoning designation modified. Seems Arambel got everything he wanted.


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