Open Letter To: Mr. Jerry Leong, July 5, 2018
Capital Outlay Lands Analyst
Cal Fire Technical Services Section
1300 U Street, Sacramento, CA 95818
We dodged a major fire disaster on Deadwood Lookout Mountain on July 4, 2018; please note the Sierra News Online link below. It took Cal Fire almost an hour to get equipment to the fire which was within 3 miles of Oakhurst. Luckily the fire burned itself down safely although the house was a total loss with thankfully no advancing of the fire to the mountain vegetation.
If one believes in Divine intervention then this was definitely one of those times. This recent fire should be very concerning to all Sierra residents that Cal Fire encountered these problems accessing the fire, including making wrong turns, getting lost, along with impassable/inadequate road conditions, but this was not unexpected by us.
Hopefully Cal Fire along with our County will actually someday address these problems with proper road maintenance, inspections, signage, etc. and do more proactive measures, also known as planning ahead, when citizens inform them of ongoing problems.
As Madera County and Cal Fire is well aware, we have tried to get our access road maintenance improved through various past means with little to no success. We have always maintained our required fire-suppression accesses to our property to the best of our abilities. But our access road condition is continually set back by the continued heavy equipment and continued uses by multiple Private Communication Companies, the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, Madera Police, Fresno Police, Army Corp of Engineers, Yosemite School System, Yosemite National Park, all the other various Government Communication Entities and all the unknown State and Federal Classified users who use Deadwood Lookout Road to access their communication equipment on Deadwood Peak.
All of these Entities do little to absolutely nothing for proper maintenance to this road. Our County, State or Federal needs to step in and correct this. This fire was an extremely close call for this whole area as this fire started about 9 p.m. and with unavailable aerial support until the next morning, this could have been a disaster rivaling the Napa fires or the other large California fires. Just one entity listed above, the United States Forest Service, yearly Federal Budget averages 5 Billion Dollars, please note the word Billion.
Over the years of our communications with Madera County and Cal Fire regarding this, we have seen limited solutions except mostly what they are not going to do and the parts they say they are going to do may, but usually, do not happen. All of our suggestions are ignored and/or push down the road repeatedly. It seems these Entities are waiting for a major disaster with multiple deaths, including Cal Fire personal (note first paragraph wrong turns, getting lost) and/or have multiple people lose everything they own before any corrective actions are taken. Our area needs permanent ongoing maintenance and solutions, we need to prepare and prevent disasters and not just react to them.
Important Note: About 8 months ago we sent Cal Fire a warning letter by certified mail stating a Deadwood Mountain Map, which Cal Fire sent us regarding a Cal Fire proposed brushing project, which showed incorrect roads and incorrectly named roads in this area. In our warning letter to Cal Fire we ask to please re-contact us regarding these errors along with re-clarifications; we never heard anything back from Cal Fire (again, please note first paragraph wrong turns, getting lost, one hour response time).
With all due respect and from our past lack of responses and actions from Madera County and Cal Fire in Sacramento, we now have very limited confidence in their abilities to resolve any of this, but we are sincerely hoping someday they will prove this last statement incorrect. I guess we will have to wait and see… again.
Daniel & Brenda Joseph, property owners on Deadwood Lookout Road, Coarsegold, CA