OAKHURST — It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in January in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and there wasn’t much thought about things like housefires. It’s not wildfire season, and we got a lot of rain and snow just a few weeks ago, so my scanner hasn’t been getting as much use as usual lately. As always, a check of the California Highway Patrol Live CAD website is a regular task, though. This afternoon, to my surprise, was a report of a housefire in Oakhurst.
Immediately, my scanner got turned on to check the location. It was a structure fire and the first crew arrived to give their initial assessment. “Multi-family, multi-story structure with fire spreading from the outside walls to the first floor.” At this point more engines and water tenders were requested and the incident commander started “PAR checks” for the firefighters that were going to be entering the building. PAR checks are Personnel Accountability Reports and a term used to confirm that all personnel assigned to a group, division, unit or incident have been identified and located, usually they happen repeatedly over a pre-designated amount of time by the incident commander.
Scanner traffic at this point became a flurry of engines and fire crews arriving on scene. News soon arrived that everyone in the building was accounted for and that the PAR checks could be discontinued. This was good news! Grahm Doe, who lives next door, had told me that they saw one individual emerge from the building wearing no shirt or shoes.
Finally, after what always feels like an eternity when I’m listening to the scanner, were the words “The fire is contained, cancel the (remaining) response and the commitment time for the units on scene will be approximately two hours for overhaul.” Next, the incident commander reported that they had contacted American Red Cross for the 4 displaced residents.
After reporting all of this on the Mountain Fire and Emergency Facebook watch group — run by myself and others — for the area and on the Sierra News Online Facebook page, information came out that the family that had been displaced were all safe. It turned out that the family was made up of two adults and two children. Later, on a local community Facebook group, people were discussing how they could help the family. I’m happy to report that the family responded by saying they are doing well and have what they need for now.
We have made contact with the family who was displaced by this fire and are aware that they now have unmet needs. We will be publishing another article to our website as soon as we have the details so the community can help.
On behalf of Sierra News Online, the apartment complex, neighbors and the town of Oakhurst, thank you so much to Cal Fire and the Madera County fire crews who arrived quickly and kept damage to the building at a minimum with no injuries being reported.
We can never thank you enough for your daily service to our communities!