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Calaveras Sheriff On Camp Fire Support, Paradise Memories

San Andreas, CA – A Mother Lode sheriff with ties to a Camp Fire-incinerated area of Butte County shares the latest on mutual aid assistance his county is helping provide.

Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio shares with Clarke Broadcasting, “Originally [just after the Camp Fire began to rage], we sent four deputies over to help with evacuations — and a couple days later sent more, swapping some out.” Following aid support requests for Search and Rescue (SAR), he adds that his office sent 11 or 12 team members. As to how long they will remain deployed, he frankly says he does not know. “They have so much area to cover…I know the request went out and [the Butte County Sheriff’s Office] received 150 to 200 searchers…so it depends on what the sheriff and OES decides they need up there.”

He adds, “I know are folks are geared to stay as long as needed — and the ones that need to come out will come out — and we will typically send over somebody to replace them so we can keep our numbers up for them.” (To view some of his office’s shared photos, click into the image box slideshow.)

While Calaveras County’s 2015 Butte Fire was certainly deadly and disastrous enough, DiBasilio says the ferocity of these most recent wildfires is hard to fathom. “The Camp Fire is nearly twice in size [as the Butte Fire] at 120,000 acres and residents have lost upwards of 6,500 homes.” He confides that he spent quite a bit of time over the years in the Paradise area since his grandparents used to live there. Recalling the topography of the Highway 70 corridor, he shakes his head. “It is a canyon…straight up on one side and straight down on the other and that fire just went through there…moved so phenomenally fast.”

As the number of missing persons continues to climb, the sheriff holds that the count may not very accurately reflect the actual deceased figure, as multiple missing persons reports can relate to a single person. Too, he says, the area was home to many older residents who might not have had cell phones to begin with — let alone ones that work now that so much infrastructure is wiped out. “I am very hopeful that those numbers are what we think they are going to be,” he confides. As for federal assistance promised by President Donald Trump, other federal heads and Governor Jerry Brown’s recent executive order to cut red tape and streamline recovery and assistance, he comments, “It is absolutely needed — and going to be helpful.”