Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A wary eye on Harris Fire

Posted @ 1:09 PM

Firefighters Craig Weaver and Scott Walker kept a wary watch on a finger of
the Harris Fire from the backyard of a home in rural Jamul.

The fire had been bobbing and weaving all night long through brushy canyons
to the east. By sunrise the fire was burning a little more than a mile away,
changing course with the capricious winds.

"We don't know what to expect," Weaver said.

Along with 17 other firefighters, Weaver and Walker were keeping watch on
Rancho Jamul Estates, an enclave of luxury homes that normally command
sweeping backcountry views, but Tuesday afforded a lookout on the advancing
fire.

The firefighters had been on duty nearly 30 hours, getting by on sandwiches
they'd saved from sack meals they'd been given the previous night. Some
firefighters took turns snatching 15 to 20 minutes of sleep in the cramped
cabs of their firetrucks, while others stood watch nearby.

"We wait and watch," Weaver said.

But that's an important part of their job.

The strike team Weaver and Walker are assigned to have the responsibility
of defending 85 multi-million dollar homes with five firetrucks.

"Those aren't good odds," Walker said, explaining that with so many fires
it's not possible to have more fire equipment or firefighters at the ready.

Because they know the odds are long, the firefighters have developed a plan
in case the advancing flames explode onto the homes.

"We've done a triage of the neighborhood," Walker said.

What that means is that when they arrived Monday they drove through the
neighborhood looking at where each house was situated on the canyon … which
ones had clearings and which had too much brush nearby.

"We know what we can save and what we can't," Weaver said. "That doesn't
mean we don't try to save everything, but we know in some cases we can't."

They have a game plan. They've walked around each house. They know where to
take their hoses. They know where the fire might go.

"We do our best to prepare," Walker said. "But when things start happening
we have to react and rely on our experiences."
-- David Hasemeyer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

any updates on Ranco Jamul Estates???