Cleanup commences: Emergency services cleanup begins on Jones Fire site | TheUnion.com
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Cleanup commences: Emergency services cleanup begins on Jones Fire site

California Office of Emergency Services representatives tour the Woolman at Sierra Friends Center off Jones Bar Road in Nevada City Wednesday morning, marking the beginning of a state-funded clean-up effort on the six-month anniversary of the start of the Jones Fire. The fire burned 705 acres and a handful of residences and many outbuildings.
Photo: Elias Funez

A state funded cleanup has begun in the wake of the 705 acre Jones Fire, which started six months ago after a lightning strike lit a fire near the South Yuba River the morning of Aug. 17.

Representatives from the California Office of Emergency Services and Nevada County Office of Emergency Services toured the cleanup efforts Wednesday morning off Newtown and Jones Bar roads, where the majority of the fire’s damage to structures occurred, including at the historic Woolman at Sierra Friends Center location.

Tractors use equipment to scoop up refuse left behind from the Jones Fire’s wake after igniting from a lightning strike the morning of Aug. 17. Contracted cleaning crews currently have access to about a dozen properties affected by the Jones Fire.
Photo: Elias Funez

The center was the site of the first Quaker school west of the Mississippi, a four-year boarding school, and up until COVID-19 and the Jones Fire, was still a working farm for kids to be able to get hands-on experience learning environmental sustainability.



“We look at it as an opportunity to rebuild and build better,” Woolman Center Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt said while addressing OES members Wednesday.

Woolman at Sierra Friends Center Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt and Program Director Bethany Thomas showed Cal OES their property damaged by the Jones Fire Wednesday. OES contractors have begun cleaning properties affected by the Jones Fire this week.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Woolman Center lost two full-time residences, the majority of the children’s dormitories, and an organic farm worked by the kids.



Insurance will cover the two permanent residences lost, but not the loss of the other structures.

A dump truck lined with plastic is used for the removal of refuse affected by the Jones Fire, which burned through the Newtown and Jones Bar road areas last August.
Photo: Elias Funez

Coleman-Hunt commended firefighters for making a stand on the Woolman Center site and their successful efforts at redirecting the fire away from Nevada City. She also thanked the OES members for their efforts to assist in the environmental cleanup, which will save the Woolman Center around $50,000.

Crews begin cleaning the hazardous waste from a property by digging down to remediate the soil as cleanly as they can, conducting soil testing along the way.

An Office of Emergency Services representative stands in front of the remnants of a building reduced to rubble from the Jones Fire, which burned 705 acres off Jones Bar Road.
Photo: Elias Funez

Dump trucks being loaded with charred refuse could be seen lined with plastic to assist handling of the hazardous waste.

“The minute the debris gets removed, we want to set up tent cabins,” Coleman-Hunt said during Wednesday’s site tour.

Coleman-Hunt’s silver lining throughout the incident has been the Woolman Center’s ability to study fire ecology and its desire to rebuild with fire activity in mind.

Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager Paul Cummings addresses Cal OES and Woolman at Sierra Friends Center representatives during Wednesday morning’s tour of the cleanup site.
Photo: Elias Funez

Prior to the Jones Fire, the children’s dormitories were spread out further away from the school’s center. Now, Coleman-Hunt is considering construction of one centrally located facility with a larger capacity.

Woolman’s directors are also considering whether to replant the orchards, as irrigated pastures provide a good fire fuel break.

Restoration of properties damaged by the Jones Fire begins with the removal of environmental waste left behind from the flames.

Woolman at Sierra Friends Center representatives give a tour of their property to members of the California Office of Emergency Services, which has begun to help clean up properties effected by the Jones Fire. The Woolman site lost two full-time residences and many dormitory and farming facilities.
Photo: Elias Funez

“Thank you for getting us to that point,” Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager Paul Cummings said Wednesday to the state’s OES representatives.

“Here we are six months to the date where we are able to finally get this work started,” Cummings said.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email, efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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