Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sonoma Fire July 4, 2008

Friday afternoon behind my home, there was a fire in the hills. But the Fire Department did an excellent putting in out in short order - THANK YOU!


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Fri 7/4 4 PM

Wild fire

Slurry drop

A Cal Fire S2 drops slurry on a vegetation fire Friday afternoon on Lomita Avenue and Ernest Drive.

The fire spread quickly and it wasn't long before fire officials had fire crews from all over the Valley and beyond responding.

The blaze was contained around 2:30 p.m. and by 3:30, some crews were being released from the scene.

The blaze reportedly was started by someone mowing.

More details will be available in Tuesday's Index-Tribune.

Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

More photos are available at:

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A firefighter puts out hot spots on a burned hillside near Lomita Avenue above Sonoma on Friday.

Aircraft help contain 7-acre fire near Sonoma

Published: Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
MARK ARONOFF / The Press Democrat


A grass fire that broke out on a dry hillside above the town of Sonoma around 2 p.m. Friday quickly raced up a hill toward a group of homes and vineyards.

Sonoma Valley firefighters responded to a report of a fire on a steep hillside near Lomita Avenue and immediately called in air support.

The fire raced toward Norrbom Road, which leads north of Sonoma to a group of several dozen homes in the Mission Highlands neighborhood.

The fire burned about 7 acres.

Several passes by air tankers dropping fire retardant and helicopters dumping buckets of water helped firefighters bring the blaze under control around 3:45 p.m., according to a Cal Fire dispatcher.

Crews were expected to remain on the scene for four to five hours, a dispatcher said.

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July 8, 2008 UPDATE

Mowing causes July 4 blaze


Wildfire chars seven acres

Fire personnel spent more than nine hours Friday putting out a seven-acre vegetation fire on Lomita Avenue.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:45 p.m., was started by someone mowing dry grass. It spread quickly and a large plume of smoke was visible from the Plaza. Capt. Jeff Gahagan, with Cal Fire, said between 75 and 100 firefighters from an estimated 10 to 12 separate agencies responded to the blaze.

In addition to fighting the fire on the ground, Cal Fire also had its aircraft in the air with S2s dropping slurry on the blaze and a helicopter dropping water. Gahagan said the fire threatened two structures, but nothing was damaged.

Firefighters had the blaze contained at 2:54 p.m. but Cal Fire was on scene until 11:19 p.m.

Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority Division Chief Mark Freeman said that in addition to Sonoma Valley, fire personnel from Schell-Vista, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Bennett Valley, Rancho Adobe, Rincon Valley and Santa Rosa responded.

Freeman said while the intentions of the person mowing were good, he reminds people that mowing should only be done in the morning when it's cool and there is some humidity. "When the humidity falls and the temperatures rise, it's not advisable to be out there mowing," he said.

And with the expected heat wave this week, Freeman advises putting off mowing until the temperatures cool down again.

Sonoma had 25 firefighters at the scene of Friday's blaze and they were on scene until a little after 7 p.m.

"Most of the people were also assisting with the fireworks (later that evening) ... it was a trying day but we wanted to make (the fireworks) happen," he said.

Freeman said it was also fortunate that Cal Fire's air-attack wing was at its base at the Sonoma County Airport. "They're lifesavers," he added.

Sonoma has been stretched thin by the wildfires going on around the state, and today two more crews are going to Butte County to relieve crews that have been there for a week. Sonoma has had crews out for the past two-and-a-half weeks.

Freeman said that Capt. Mike Bruno, Engineer Bill Harper, and firefighters Bob Molesworth and Jack Ayers are going to be relieving a crew on the Office of Emergency Services engine, while Capt. Sean Lacy, Engineer Ben Gulson and firefighters Ryan McCracken and Kristin Nightingale will be relieving the crew of engine 3382. Freeman said Schell-Vista Firefighter Austin Boldt will also be sent to the Butte Lightning Complex to relieve the Schell-vista personnel there.

And, Division Chief Bob Norrbom is still leading a strike team in Mendocino County, but Freeman said the department is hoping that Norrbom will be relieved sometime this week with a strike team leader from another department.

"We're experiencing late September, early October fire conditions," Freeman said. "I know we say it almost every year, but this could be the worst fire season we've seen.'

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