First responders honored by realtors association, disclosure of fire dangers urged | TheUnion.com

First responders honored by realtors association, disclosure of fire dangers urged

The Nevada County Association of Realtors honored Nevada County's first responders during its members' breakfast Tuesday morning.

Representatives from Penn Valley Fire Protection District, Higgins Fire District, Grass Valley Fire Department, Ophir Hill Fire Protection District, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, Smartsville Fire District, Grass Valley Police Department, Nevada City Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and Cal Fire accepted awards for their protection of the community during the October wildfires that ravaged the state.

Cal Fire Batallion Chief Matt Wallen was on hand to give highlights from those wildfires, as well as better educate and prepare clients of the Association of Realtors.

"When you're talking to your buyers … let them know that if you have a lot of brush over here, there's a real good chance that your house, if we get a fire anytime between August and September, your house is probably not going to make it," Wallen said. "Tell your clients they're living in an area where we all need to think about being a lot more self-sufficient with our homes and our safety; how we conduct our daily lives on really windy days during fire season. Because I don't see it changing."

Wallen said firefighters don't have much time to think when there's a red flag warning, and recommended people go so far as to grab a couple keepsakes before heading to work in case disaster strikes.

"That sounds a little paranoid," Wallen said. "But honestly, with what we're seeing, and what our capabilities are to deal with the magnitude of the fires, we're doing the best we can and we're really running out of options to keep these fires small."

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Wallen said initial response on that day in early October supported his stance.

"So that night I got down to Loma Rica, I didn't realize it, but I had 118 homes on the ground by morning," Wallen said. "Everybody was whooped, we did the best we could, we couldn't get any more agencies. I didn't even know the fire was going in Napa. I didn't even know the Lobo fire was burning. There was so much going on, so many new fires.

"Bottom line is, we were way overtasked for the mission. I thought how we came out of it was very positive. We did a good job, but the wind died down, that is what saved the communities. Had it kept going, more people would have lost lives, more people would have lost homes. It would have gone straight down into Lake Wildwood."

Realtors Gary and Sherry Mason, from Remax Performance, were also recognized during the breakfast, for helping to pull people's livestock to safety during the fires.

Nevada City Fire Department and Nevada County Sheriff's Department were also honored but were not present.

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

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