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Local State Of Emergency Declared For Washington Fire

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Sonora, CA — The City of Sonora and Tuolumne County are hoping to recoup some of the costs associated with fighting the Washington Fire that ignited last Thursday between Sonora and Jamestown.

Local deputies and police officers were stretched thin, and outside law enforcement personnel responded from places like Calaveras and Stanislaus counties.

Sonora Police Chief Turu Vanderwiel referred to the collaboration among the different agencies as “phenomenal.”

“There was a point when we were out of people (law enforcement resources) and fortunately the fire crews came together and did what needed to get done. And so, we were able to start pulling down our roadblocks and opening those residential areas back up.”

The Police Department and Sheriff’s Office were forced to cover a lot of ground in a short window of time.

Mayor Matt Hawkins, who lives in a part of the downtown area that was under an evacuation order, says, “There is so much riding on our little town and there is so much going on. This fire really had us outgunned. I know that because of how much underbrush there was.” Adding to law enforcement and fire responders, “From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you.”

Board of Supervisors Chair, Ryan Campbell, also praised the cooperation between the city and county. Noting, “The level of professionalism was amazing. If they were afraid, they didn’t look it. I’m sure everybody was. But it was like get the job done, get people out and get them safe.”

Cleanup will continue over the coming days and weeks. The county is working to bring in contractors to safely remove waste. Anyone in the burn footprint should be wearing safety equipment like goggles and the equivalent of an N95 mask. Ashes and debris should remain in place for the time being while the removal is being coordinated.

The declaration of local emergency opens the door for potential state or federal funding.

Mop up on the fire continues. It is 100 acres and 75 percent contained. The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

  • Washington Fire Response - Tuolumne County Fire