UPDATED: Campus Fire Crew Is Home

A worker in a cherry picker uses a chainsaw to cut a tree branch.
A member of the campus tree crew saws limbs off a tree on Bioletti Way Monday (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Updated 4 p.m. Nov. 1: Welcome home, Kyle Dubs, Meggie Elledge, Jon Poganski and Ryan Tooley. “Brush 34 was released from the Kincade Fire yesterday and returned home late afternoon,” Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht reported today. “They are home enjoying some much needed rest and family time.” The crew had been on the fire lines for a week, saving homes, patrolling and mopping up.

Updated 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30: PG&E power is back on at the Bodega Marine Lab.

Updated 10:40 a.m. Oct. 30: “Good” air quality is forecast for Davis today, based on a predicted measurement of 50 on the Air Quality Index. The forecast for Thursday (Oct. 31) is 55, within the moderate range. Also see an update below on the Bodega Marine Lab’s reopening.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is implementing its third public safety power shutoff of the month — and, like the first two times, the main campus and environs are spared. See the map here.

A map showing that UC Davis is not included in the Oct. 29 power shutoff zone.
PG&E’s Oct. 29 power shutoff map, available online, shows that UC Davis is not included in the planned outage area.

The campus is not out of the woods, however, as officials monitor air quality, and grounds workers clean up from the weekend windstorm and prepare for the next one.

Off campus, UC Davis firefighters are still in the fight against the Kincade Fire, the Veterinary Emergency Response Team has been activated and the Bodega Marine Laboratory remains closed.

“Good” air quality Monday (Oct. 28) allowed normal operations on the main campus. The Air Quality index for today (Oct. 29) predicts a reading in the moderate range (51-100); according to UC’s AQI-Based Decision-Making Matrix for Wildfire Smoke Event, the moderate range is low enough so as not to effect campus operations. The matrix also states: Amid moderate air quality, “unusually sensitive individuals (people with lung and heart disease) may be affected," and outdoor workers/volunteers who are unusually sensitive may require work accommodations.

Should conditions change, the campus will use the WarnMe/Aggie Alert system, which sends text messages and emails to all faculty, staff and students — at least to our UC Davis phones and email accounts. Alerts can also be sent to our personal phones and email accounts — but only if we register here (click on “Edit my WarnMe information now!”).

Fallout on campus

Grounds crew members rake leaves and other debris.
Cleaning up after Sunday’s strong winds: grounds workers, from left, Gary Perez, Markus Morris and Blas Garcia. (Katie Hetrick/UC Davis)

Grounds supervisor Tyson Mantor reported today the loss of seven trees because of the wind, three of them heritage cork oaks along Bioletti Way, between Hutchison Drive and La Rue Road.

He said three arborists worked 12½ hours Sunday (Oct. 27) responding to numerous hazards. Other grounds workers are cleaning up leaves, branches and other debris — lots of it.

“We were graced with the fact that the storm occurred on Sunday when there were very few people on campus,” Mantor said. “This has also led to a slow discovery process of all of the downed trees and limbs. We are still finding new limbs and trees that people did not report.” For example, amid the mulberry trees in front of the Center for Child and Family Studies.

In addition, numerous branches are running across one of the few PG&E lines on campus. “We are still waiting for PG&E to shut off the power to the lines so our team can trim all branches away,” Mantor said. “I can tell you that all of our folks are tirelessly working to try to make sure that UC Davis’ landscape is safe and presentable.”

And they are doing so shorthanded, as one arborist, Justin Ross, had a good excuse to be away: His wife delivered a baby girl at 2 a.m. Sunday during the wind storm.

Campus firefighters save homes, patrol

A UC Davis fire truck at the Kincade Fire.
The UC Davis Fire Department’s Brush Truck 34 on the front lines of the Kincade Fire. (UC Davis Fire Department)

Updated 4 p.m. Nov. 1: Welcome home, Kyle Dubs, Meggie Elledge, Jon Poganski and Ryan Tooley. “Brush 34 was released from the Kincade Fire yesterday and returned home late afternoon,” Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht reported today. “They are home enjoying some much needed rest and family time.”

A UC Davis Fire Department crew returned to the front lines of the Kincade Fire today after a well-earned rest Monday. The foursome is part of a Yolo County strike team that left campus Friday morning (Oct. 25) and has already saved a number of homes in the raging fire.

The crew comprises Capt. Kyle Dubs, engineer Ryan Tooley, and firefighters Meggie Elledge and Jon Poganski. Most recently, they were assigned to patrol Pine Flat Road, a narrow, winding road in Geyserville.

The fire had grown to 75,000 acres and was 15 percent contained, CalFire said this morning.

Vet team aids evacuated animals

A student holds a horse still while a veterinarian examines the animal.
At the emergency shelter on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds: Veterinary student Patrick Cunningham, right, holds horse while Jessica Morgan, assistant professor, conducts examination. (John Madigan/UC Davis)

Members of the Veterinary Emergency Response Team, or VERT, are at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa for a second day today caring for animals that have been evacuated because of the Kincade Fire.

“With a high number of animals located at three different evacuation centers, there is a great need to evaluate the health and welfare of animals being sheltered there,” the School of Veterinary Medicine said.

On its first day out, the team split into two groups: One cared for horses, sheep, pigs, birds and donkeys, while John Madigan, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, led a group participating in search-and-rescue missions alongside firefighters.

Today’s VERT group at the fairground comprises eight students and three faculty members.

Updates on VERT are available on the School of Veterinary Medicine website.

Bodega Marine Lab

Updated 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30: PG&E power is back on at the Bodega Marine Lab. “Over dinner tonight, raise a toast to BML’s mighty backup generator that has continued to work faithfully since last Saturday,” Patrick Helbling, the lab’s associate director, said in an email to faculty, staff and students. “Thank you, Gennie; job well done!”

Updated 10:40 a.m. Oct. 30: The Bodega Marine Laboratory reopened today. The decision came upon news that firefighters had made significant progress is dousing the Kincade Fire, boosting containment to 30 percent.

In addition, lab officials said they are confident Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will restore the lab’s power shortly. In the meantime, a generator meets all of the lab’s power needs.

Lab officials reminded that the lab is still in an evacuation warning zone, and, if the designation goes back to mandatory, the lab will close again. The lab reported an air quality reading of 15 on the Air Quality Index, within the “good” range. “With the fire still raging, shifting winds can impact air quality at the lab, so keep an eye on this if it impacts you,” Patrick Helbling, the lab’s associate director, said in an email announcing the lab had reopened.

The Bodega Marine Laboratory is closed at least through today, lab officials said, even though the lab is no longer subject to mandatory evacuation. The lab is being powered by generator, having lost electricity in PG&E’s public safety power shutoff.

Sonoma County authorities on Monday downgraded the evacuation status of the county’s west side, including Bodega Head on the Pacific Coast, from mandatory to warning. See the map.

However, said lab assistant director Patrick Helbling, the Sheriff’s Department advised that the warning can quickly be upgraded again, depending on what’s happening with the Kincade Fire.

Knowing that high winds are projected for (today) beginning around 9 a.m. through Thursday, we decided that the lab will remain closed ... and we will assess the situation in the late afternoon when the winds begin to diminish,” Helbling said in an email to lab residents (faculty, staff and students) at about 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Air quality also played a factor in the lab’s decision to remain closed, Helbling said. Prior to PG&E’s public safety power shutoff,  air monitoring stations measured the air quality in the Bodega area at around 155 (unhealthy) on the Air Quality Index. “With the power down, not all sensors are working on these sites,” he said. However, “we estimate the air quality is still very poor.”

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