De Luz Volunteer Fire Department

After-Action Report: Fires 10 Feb 2002 (Galavan & De Luz Incident)

Date of report :17 Feb 2002

De Luz Incident Number 01-02NR 33 & 02-02NR34

The following information was compiled from eyewitness report and interviews plus newspaper articles.

Background: The weekend of February 9th & 10th was a Red Flag Warning period. Extreme Fire Conditions existed throughout the County of San Diego and Southern California. All fire agencies were placed on extra seasonal manning and preparedness due to the Santa Anna gusts of 80-mph winds, low humidity of less than 20%, lack of winter rain for a period of 6 weeks, and low vegetation moisture content.

The seasonally manned De Luz CDF Station was temporarily manned with a 3 man Crew and a Type III engine (3371) on the morning of the 9th. De Luz VFD had 2-Type III(9860,9863), 1-Type-IV(9862), 1 2000gal Tender(9850), one Utility(9864) operational that day (two engines down for service). Manning level available that day sixteen firefighters.


Action Time Line February 10, 2002: *All times estimated with + or - 10 minutes


Vegetation Fire, 1/2 acre Via Ranchitos Dr , NCFPD 1111 plus CDF 3371, Dispatched plus two Rainbow Camp Hand Crews


Fire out, Mop up completed, Units depart


NCFPD responds to report of smoke same location, Could not find, Departs.


Chief Manchor calls recall roster to inform all of Red Flag and to prepare. He goes into town to purchase 40 gallons of fuel for 9864, 9860, and 9850 to top off. On fire radio, numerous small vegetation fires going on throughout County due to downed power lines, At least four in North County.


Met with 9864 crew, fueled them, They were prepped and suited for immediate response, continued fueling remaining engines.


On CDF Dispatch, report of smoke showing Via Ranchitos Dr, NCFPD, and CDF 3371 responding. Called 9864 crew Dave and Dan Marin to meet me with 9850 Tender At De Anza and Cameron Rds. Phil Hernadez in 9863 and Dick Wright in 9862 suited and on standby if needed.


Tender 9850 & 9864 RDVU De Anza, Fire Radio initially reports "probable ag-burn nothing showing, reduced Code requested", prepared to return De Luz crews to Station 1.


CDF 3371 announces "continue response moderate smoke showing" Motioned to 9864 crew to follow me (9850) to the top of Rock Mt grade to fill tender and stage if needed.


Arrived top of Rock Mt Sandia Creek Dr grade, filled tender and staged in position over looking fire 3 miles to the south. Minimal cellphone reception, but was able to call Station one to recall all personnel and prepare 9860, 9862, 9863 to respond. Moderate black and brown smoke showing and increasing.


Sent 9864 crew (Marins) to Sandia Creek bridge to assess and recon. Call back on Cell phone. Received call and pages from Station and residents of conflicting smoke reports on "American & Jones Rd", Harris Trail, Cathy Drive, Looked to the west from hilltop, Nothing showing.


9864 calls on cellphone, Fire is reported to them as "out of control". Proceeded to Sandia Creek Bridge with 2000 gallons to set up fire engine refill point with 9850 & 9864


Arrived Sandia Creek Bridge. Called Phil with 9863 to respond to bridge. Set up Refill point in dirt parking lot. Told civilians "lookie-lous", about a dozen cars, to depart area. This place will be filled with Engines soon. Called Station one 9860 available with John Beemer, Vic Mckenzie, Elfego Covarrubias and Melanie Gurvits. Told them to respond to report of smoke "American Rd" . Wade Foos and Dick Marcon suiting up and will respond POV. 9862 Dick Wright and Robert Freeman responding to De Luz CDF station. Report of fire. Galavan IC reports all engines to "try to get ahead of this fire". About a dozen engines entering Galavan Mt Rd begin to rapidly depart. Fire is about 1000 feet east of the Bridge and approaching Rapidly. 9850,9864 are set up at the bridge and at the base of Santa Margarita Drive hill.


First CDF Dispatch report of fire at De Luz CDF Station 10 miles to northwest. No engines available to send.


9863 arrives at bridge, I send 9864 crew to American Rd to join up with 9860. Last engine leaves Galavan Mt Rd 3371. Stops at refill point and is loaded with 700 gallons. Captain asks "how long can we stay here?: I said not much longer, fire was now 500 feet away, and I had a second fire in our own area.


Sent Phil in 9863 to proceed to Harris Trail for report of smoke that is different than Galavan Fire.


I am all alone at bridge. No other vehicles within 5 minutes, Fire is now 300 feet east of me, and climbing Santa Magarrita Dr hill, homes are now being overrun on top. I depart Bridge and head for CDF Station Fire. Along drive on De Luz Rd there are dozens of hot spots along River bed and both sides of hill. Crossed De Luz Bridge at 1220, and Pendleton hillside to left and right afire two miles from fires head.


Arrived top of grade, 3.5 mile marker, and met with 9863. No fire Harris Trail. Told him to follow tender to CDF Station. Shortly after this made first radio contact with Deputy Chief Beemer that he was on American Rd at a home and was told 9862 was at the CDF Station protecting it on three sides.


Eight mile marker, Approx. 100' by 100' roadside spot-fire begins climbing hill on East Side of De Luz Rd. hit it with Tender' s side sprayer and extinguished most of hit. Stopped with 9833, broke out tow 1 & 1/2' hoselines top cool both sides of fire.


First CDF unit seen passing me. A Utility truck no water. We proceed last 500 yards to CDF Station. Spot fire is safely contained from spreading.


Proceeding to CDF Station. 100yards before saw Robert Freeman attempting to keeps several larger spot fires from jumping the west side of De Luz Rd. Hit it and Robert with Side Sprayer to reduce size and stop crowning. This was the scene filmed by Channel 7 news crew as they passed. Shown at 10pm.


Arrived CDF Station, Met with Capt. Wright in 9862 by himself attacking numerous hotspots around grounds. Hoselines deployed all around parking lot. Decide to fill Tender. Took on only about 400 gallons due to Station tank level reduced.

Tender has about 1500 gallons onboard.


Called to 9860. They are in structure protection with two home and low on water. 9863's battery dies He heard cries of help up a dirt driveway and went up. Instructed 9862 to assist 9863 as I headed to American Rd .


Saw first CDF engine 4274 alongside road at 7.5 mile marker. Later learned that it had broken down and that our mechanic Robert Freeman helped restarting it.


Arrived American Road and proceeded to it end to meet with 9860 and 9864


Arrived end of American could see 9864 crew at home at end of Canyon View Rd which branched right off American Rd. 9860 Radios that they are at house above 9864 also on Canyon View. Decided American Rd was about to be overrun and set up tender on hilltop driveway with side sprayer pointed towards fire. Also laid out two hoselines from tender to attack grove fire and to cool a 150 gal Propane tank. Assisted by 4 teenagers and two adults in dragging hoses.


Large 20 foot flames reach hilltop and are hitting tender's right side. Attempt to "Cut and Run" but could not due to side compartment door would not close and would be ripped off if attempted to move. Again, activated right side sprayer and reduce the flames dramatically. Regained control and extended the hoseline to a burning trailer home 400 feet down hill into the grove. Spot fires going over the top of hill's crest. Gave teenagers shovels and told them to go after any spot they see starting behind the hill.


Firefighters Wade Foos and Dick Marcon arrive and set up a 300 hose line a warfhead hydrant at driveway's base and tie into grove 400-foot hoseline to extinguish trailer fire. Ron Lange arrives and assists.

Two water-dropping helicopters are making runs on fire. One is the Skycrane large helo-tanker the other is a LA County Sheriff UH-1


9860 arrives to American Rd location, sets up hose line at building pad to prevent fire from curling around south side of hill and succeeds.


9863 arrives and is refilled from tender then sent to assist 9860 on south side hose line.


CDF 4274 arrives on American Rd. fire scene. Told them we will hold this location, and they should proceed to other areas threatened.


Fire appears to be under control and held on the east side on a line between American and Canyon View Rds and the West side by De Luz Rd. Helicopters are taking care of fire's slow movement on north side. Instructed All De Luz Crews to reload all gear onto trucks


All Engines depart and return to Station one. Unload broken hose and clean dirty hoses. 9860 non-operational fuel pump problem. 9863 stays at station one and restored into operation. Crew is fed.


Electric Power is off, phones are out. Water pressure still good due to high gravity pressure.
Phone service restored in two days, electric service in three.
All engines restored and operational by Monday evening.