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A City Within A City

Sonora, CA — That would aptly describe the C.D.F. Incident Base located this week at the Tuolumne County Fair Grounds. The base houses personnel, communications, finance, copying and faxing and even laundry facilities.

In addition to the 852 firefighters from around the state that are battling the 2,000 plus acre Lake Don Pedro fire in the south county, there are another 500 C.D.F. personnel, independent contractors and Sierra Conservation Center inmates serving on the support staff. 100% contained is expected by 6PM today.

Overseeing the entire operation is Incident Commander Dale Hutchinson from Riverside, CA. On a scale of 1-10, Hutchinson has rated the Lake Don Pedro fire as either a seven or an eight as far as difficulty is concerned in bringing the blaze under control. He cites the steep and remote terrain as the reason for that rating.

Maps are updated twice a day to pinpoint the exact location of the fire and the progress being made by the strike crews during their 24 hour shifts. Those maps are produced with the use of helicopters and G.P.S. units.

The hourly cost of fighting the Lake Don Pedro fire was $23,600 through 7AM Wednesday. The total cost has already exceeded $1.5 million … all because a shovel hit a rock and caused a spark that ignited the fire Monday.

Probably the most popular locale within the Incident Base is the mess trailer. Firefighters are served breakfast and dinner and provided sack lunches. Because of the extreme difficulty of the work, firefighters average an intake of 6,000 calories a day.

Written by Bill Johnson