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Amateur Radio Emergency Service Volunteers Assist In CA Fire Response:

from The ARRL Letter on August 9, 2018
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Amateur Radio Emergency Service Volunteers Assist In California Fire Response:

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers pitched in to assist where needed to provide or support communication during the catastrophic fire in California. Volunteers from multiple ARRL Sections in the state stepped up to help. The fires have claimed several lives, destroyed more than 1,000 homes, and forced countless residents to evacuate, including radio amateurs. ARRL Sacramento Valley Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, said that the last ARES volunteers deployed to support American Red Cross shelter stood down on August 7. Other shelter communicators deployed earlier remained on duty for 10 days. Initially, there were four shelters in Redding. On August 5, the Shasta-Tehama ARES team was able to take its communications trailer to Trinity County to support a shelter in Weaverville opened for Carr Fire evacuees, he said.

"This relieved the Sacramento County ARES volunteers who had been up there for several days," Kruckewitt said, adding that communications at the shelter were important, as power and cell phone coverage was often spotty, with power going off for hours at a time. CalFire reported on August 9 that the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties covered more than 176,000 acres and was 47% contained. Evacuations and road closures are in effect. At one point, more than a dozen ARES volunteers from Shasta, Sacramento, Butte, Placer, Trinity, and El Dorado counties were working at shelters opened in the wake of the Carr Fire.

Sacramento Valley ARES member Michael Joseph, KK6ZGB, at the Red Cross Gold County Region Disaster Operations Center.

Sacramento Valley ARES member Michael Joseph, KK6ZGB, served as the liaison at the Red Cross Gold County Region Disaster Operations Center (DOC) in Sacramento, Kruckewitt noted, adding that Joseph had been in the DOC since the fire started.

Kruckewitt said Winlink was the go-to mode, as fire has damaged several repeaters and no repeater path exists to the Gold County Region of the Red Cross in Sacramento.

"One difficulty we ran into this weekend was that the Red Cross needed [ARES Emergency Coordinator and SEC] contact information for various counties that also are experiencing fires and having to open shelters," he said. Completing that task involved lots of phone calls. "We encourage all ARES members to get to know their neighboring ARES groups and...check into their nets."

Joseph reported last weekend that the Mendocino Complex Fire was being closely monitored, although no additional requests for ARES assistance were being made. The Ranch Fire in the Mendocino Complex as of August 9 covered some 253,200 acres and was 46% contained. The Mendocino Complex Fire is being called the largest wildfire in California history, although the Carr Fire has been more devastating.

ARES teams in other California Sections remained on standby in case they were needed.


The ARRL Letter

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