Brian Hamilton: When the call comes, first responders answer |

Brian Hamilton: When the call comes, first responders answer

For live fire coverage go to The Union Now

Also additional ongoing coverage can be found here.

One call came from dispatch about an older couple attempting to evacuate their home, but without power they couldn’t get the garage door to open.

Another came from a first responder going door-to-door to evacuate a home, reporting the fire was now within 10 feet of the residence.

Another came from a person helping to evacuate animals, in desperate need of a trailer to haul horses to safety.

And then onto the next call … and another … and another.

“Any home can be rebuilt, but you can’t rebuild your life if you lose that.” — Sheriff Keith Royal

From midnight Monday on, the calls kept coming — and likely even more are being made as you read this — about people needing help … in dire danger due the major fires burning through our community this week.

But in each instance, our first responders answer each call.

And our community is so grateful they do.

Sure, for the vast majority of them, it’s their job. They are paid to often put themselves in perilous predicaments in order to ensure the rest of us remain safe. But put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

Thousands of people are threatened by fast-moving wildfire — the sort of which we’ve all feared would one day rage toward our residential areas — needing to evacuate. Many residents received a “code red” call, while others — perhaps without power — did not, meaning our first responders proceed as though they’re delivering the difficult news firsthand.

Driving down twisting dirt roads to find homes tucked deep into these foothills, they knock on doors in the dead of the night, waking many who answer with the worry that their home could soon be gone.

Some spring to action, put their plan to work, gathering loved ones and pets before making a quick departure.

Some panic and begin a frantic search for prized possessions, an act we all know should have been done long before the knock came to the door.

And some might even argue over the need to leave, putting themselves — and anyone attempting to later rescue them — further in peril.

And then onto the next door … and another … and another.

Listening to the scanner traffic, as reports are relayed, the collaborative efforts among our police, fire and emergency responders is readily apparent — as entire neighborhoods are systematically, and efficiently evacuated.

“What’s different in our community than in some of the larger metro areas is that our public safety people are a cohesive group,” Sheriff Keith Royal said Tuesday morning. “We’re all friends, we know each other and we work together very well in all aspects. Our staff cares. We live here. Our goal is to keep the community safe.

“Unfortunately, in recent years, we’ve had several events like this. But when the shoe drops … everybody jumps on board.”

According to the Office of Emergency Services several dozens of people who were evacuated received the support of volunteers at evacuation centers, with 113 people at Twin Cities Church and 25 more at First Baptist Church.

“Still have room and food for more people if you want to come in and rest,” OES reported via Facebook.

In addition to our local folks, Royal said our community also received support from first responders from the cities of Roseville and Lincoln, as well as Placer County. Nevada County’s Search and Rescue volunteers have also been called on for assistance.

And if the knock does come, one way we can help them is to follow their directions.

“If the call comes out that they should evacuate,” Royal said, “everyone should do that.”

“Any home can be rebuilt, but you can’t rebuild your life if you lose that.”

Get in the know with ‘Notify Me’

One way area residents can ensure they’re getting the latest information from our first responders is to sign up for emails and text messages through the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services.

It’s an easy straightforward process that Taylor Wolfe, a county administrative analyst, walked me through this morning.

Go to and scroll down to click on the “Stay Informed” icon, which will take you to the “Notify Me” page, where you can enter your email address and/or cell phone. Check the boxes on the updates you’d like to receive — whether from the “Alert Center,” which provides the latest wildfire updates, or information from various county departments — and then hit “Save” (see this story at for a direct link).

You’ll soon receive the latest information in your email in box or via text message.

The Union NOW live scanner feed

We recently launched The Union NOW, found on the home page of, in order to quickly share information to our website from our social media accounts.

Reporters and editors on the scene of an incident can quickly post information through their mobile phones that is published via this portal to all of The Union’s social media accounts. You don’t need to be on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to view the latest information from The Union newsroom — and various other relevant social media efforts.

In addition to those most recent posts, you’re also able to listen live to our public safety scanner traffic through an app we’ve added to the page. This new feature has proved popular this week, as we all seek the very latest information on this very dangerous situation.

And, if you’re looking to have breaking news delivered directly to your mobile phone, simply text UnionNews to 86677 to receive The Union’s text alerts.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at or 530-477-4249.

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