It was a 5-acre fire in Shingle Springs that was immediately confronted by firefighters and eventually reduced to ashes. The community is very thankful for this action and we must recognize the units involved: Cal Fire, El Dorado Hills Fire Department, El Dorado County, Diamond Springs, Latrobe, Rescue, Georgetown, Cameron Park fire departments and the U.S. Forest Service.
Problem: I am aware that the policy is to overwhelm to restrict fire from spreading. However, it appeared that 40-50 units responded; fire units, paramedics, CHP, Sheriff’s Department, etc. Yes, a 5-acre fire was contained with no apparent injuries or major loss of property. Was it really necessary for whoever is coordinating for this number of engines when nobody addressed civilian vehicles being misdirected?
The highway was blocked eastbound at Cameron Park Drive. Vehicles were directed to exit either north or south from the highway. Apparently no one informed the officer that if you went south on Durock Road, two miles of bumper traffic took one hour and 29 minutes. There a CHP officer turned all traffic back at Durock Road to Highway 50. From Product Drive, off Durock Road (road block) back to Highway 50 took one hour and 47 minutes. I asked a CHP officer why all vehicles were not stopped before proceeding down Durock Road. There were over 3,000 cars parked on Durock Road. The officer replied that due to budget cuts they couldn’t cover all routes.
I’m sorry for those cuts, but I witnessed 20-30 members of those 40-50 units waiting to be of emergency service and helping traffic may not be in their job description, but there were neighbors along Durock who did. People were supplying water to those in this “parking lot” at 100-plus degrees. Three hours and 300 vehicles, a 5-acre fire and emergency personnel waiting to be needed.
With all the pre-planning, mutual cooperation and coordination, why was this so poorly planned with respect to detours and escape routes?
If this fire was more serious, there were 300 vehicles not going anywhere, emergency services did not have adequate room to maneuver, many elderly were stressed and lack of information and direction. Should we expect this in the future?