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Hams Continue to Support Rim Fire Response:

from The ARRL Letter on August 29, 2013
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Hams Continue to Support Rim Fire Response:

With California's gigantic Rim Fire still raging, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES volunteers continued to assist local emergency managers and responding agencies in filling communication gaps. Tuolumne County RACES Radio Officer Phil Fish, WB6GGY, told ARRL that with telephone circuits overloaded and cell service spotty, ham radio is keeping the lines of communication open. ARES-RACES members are helping to support communication between local government and the American Red Cross shelter.

"They were just hungry for hams," Fish said of local emergency management officials. "We've had a great response from the local ham community." Volunteers, he said, have been putting in "some long days."

Tuolumne County ARES EC Carl Croci, NI6Z, said volunteers from Calaveras County ARES also have been pitching in. "We are still staffing the Red Cross Shelter and the community information phone lines with four ARES/RACES operators on the phones and two in the shelters," Croci said August 28. "There are now there shelters open at the Tuolumne County Fairgrounds, and the Red Cross is using FRS radios between the shelters, so the shelter ops are also monitoring those radios as well. The EchoLink system has seen a decrease in traffic asking about friends and relatives." The Red Cross is sheltering approximately 100 evacuees. Other ARES-RACES volunteers have been helping to handle telephone traffic in the county emergency operations center.

Fish has described the terrain in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties as "very, very, very rugged."

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC, the Rim Fire as of August 29 covers nearly 192,500 acres, with nearly 8000 acres burned over in the past 24 hours. The Rim Fire, 30 percent contained, has now has claimed more than 110 structures, and fighting it has cost more than $39 million. The NIFC says the fire has been crowning. The communities of Tuolumne City, Twain Harte, Long Barn, Pinecrest and the Hetch-Hetchy watershed are threatened, as are power lines in the region. Evacuations and road and area closures are in effect. Th Rim Fire is not expected to be fully contained for another 10 days or so.

A series of time-lapse images has been posted that offer a perspective of the Rim Fire's rapid growth.


The ARRL Letter

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