‘A great response’: Multiple agencies quickly bring blaze under control
People standing above the Loma Rica project on Sutton Way watched smoke plume from a vegetation fire that broke out around 10:30 a.m. Monday, just west of the intersection of Brunswick and Idaho Maryland roads.
Over 80 different authorities from various agencies – the Grass Valley/Nevada City Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, Grass Valley Police Department and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office — responded to the fire, which burned a total of 3.3 acres.
No one was hurt and no buildings were damaged.
Officer Jason Bice of the California Highway Patrol said first responders stopped the fire’s active spread within the first hour after the flames first became visible.
“The forward progression was stopped on it and they’re doing mopping up now,” Bice said around 11:30 a.m.
Sam Goodspeed, division chief for the Grass Valley/Nevada City Fire Department, said that forward progress was stopped within the hour of the fire’s ignition, and that the department called containment at 12:30 p.m. Authorities began releasing resources from the incident at 1 p.m.
Goodspeed said engines would remain on the scene working to abate hot spots until the end of the day.
“We’ll obviously be rechecking the fire (Monday night) and (this) morning,” Goodspeed said.
Goodspeed said the prompt multi-faceted response from the different agencies involved helped ensure the fire’s efficient and safe containment.
“We had a great response from local fire agencies coming to the fire and back filling in the fire station to make sure there were no gaps in response coverage,” Goodspeed said, adding “there was unified command with law enforcement partners.”
Bice said the full-bodied response is always necessary, but particularly essential because of the fire’s proximity to town. Not only were there a number of residences at risk in the area, but the Grass Valley Air Attack Base on Loma Rica — an essential resource to fight fires from above in the Sierra Foothills — could have also been affected.
“That’s where they refuel and replenish the smaller tankers for fighting fires in the area,” Bice said. “It’s critical.”
Goodspeed said a Cal Fire bulldozer was employed to cut line and stop the fire’s spread. Aircraft was also employed in the fire suppression effort.
“We had air tankers out of the Grass Valley Air Attack Base, which responded,” Goodspeed said. “We also had a helicopter which was dropping buckets to the interior of the fire to cool down the hot spots.”
Goodspeed said CHP successfully managed the traffic congestion precipitated by observers, so it did not affect the firefighters’ efforts.
A hand crew armed with chainsaws and shovels arrived at 11:30 a.m. to down trees and remove possible fuel sources, Bice said.
“It’s all about cleaning up the land, because (dead trees and dry brush) will torch quick,” Bice said.
Bice said the cable lines running the length of Idaho Maryland Road have little electrical charge, but that two poles would likely have to be replaced. First responders managed to keep the flames from getting near the electrical lines running along Brunswick.
Witnesses reported to both police and fire departments that two people appeared to be leaving the scene as the flames began.
“They were contacted by GVPD, and they were released at scene,” Goodspeed said. “Officers have info if we need to do a follow up.”
Bice said there was a homeless encampment located in the area.
“Unfortunately, if people are living out there, it’s easy to start a fire just by smoking a cigarette,“ Bice said.
Goodspeed said the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Grass Valley Fire Prevention Bureau.
“Nothing has been determined yet,” Goodspeed said.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com
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