Tag Archives: fire

California’s Public Lands Affected by Wildfires: Know Before You Go

Fires throughout California have affected access to public lands in many locations that are normally heavily used during the fall general hunting season openers. Archery deer hunters on scouting expeditions around the state are already encountering restricted access to desirable properties. As the general deer seasons approach in many California hunting zones, hunters are reminded to research the areas where they intend to hunt or scout to be sure those areas are free from fire restrictions.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not maintain up to date status on road or campground closures, with the exception of CDFW managed properties. Be sure to check the websites of those agencies who manage the land you intend to visit or where you have reservations.

CalFire maintains a website with current information on major fires in the state.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management use InciWeb to provide information about active fires (and other natural disasters) in California and across the country.

The national forest or campground you plan to visit may have more specific information regarding road closures, campground closures, etc.

CDFW’s state and federal partner agencies wish to promote safe and enjoyable use of your public lands during the fire season. Know before you go.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 322-8911
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

 

Putah Creek Wildlife Area Reopens for Public Use

The Putah Creek Wildlife Area in Solano County has reopened for public use as of Saturday, July 9, 2016. The wildlife area was closed in August 2015 to allow recovery from the Wragg Fire. Though the area continues to recover from the fire and winter rains, the slopes are now sufficiently stable to allow safe public access without incurring environmental damage.

Hikers are advised to choose their footing carefully and exercise caution as underlying surfaces of the existing trails may have undergone shifting and fallen trees and other hazards may still be present. As always, avoid hiking in extreme heat, wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water.

Putah Creek Wildlife Area is located in Solano County just east of Lake Berryessa.

For more information on the wildlife area, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/putah-creek-wa.

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Media Contacts:
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5544

Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 327-9948

California Wildlife Officers Receive State’s Highest Honor, Medal of Valor

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers Ryan Stephenson and Timothy Little received awards today at the 2016 Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award Ceremony in Sacramento. The awards acknowledge state employees for acts of heroism and bravery. Officer Stephenson and Little will both receive the Gold Medal for their “Special Acts” defined by the program as, “an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his/her own life in an effort to save human life.”

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Wildlife Officer Ryan Stephenson:

On September 12, 2015 approximately 3 p.m., Stephenson was patrolling Lake County when the Valley Fire ignited. The fire had just consumed the small town of Cobb and was now headed toward Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake.

Stephenson raced ahead of the inferno to warn people about the fire and help them evacuate so they wouldn’t be trapped by the flames. Working door to door, he had evacuated several homes and escorted eight people to safety when one of the residents realized their neighbor had been overlooked. The neighbor, an 88-year-old wheelchair bound woman, was still in her home, lying on the couch, unaware of the approaching fire. Officer Stephenson quickly returned to her street, which was now engulfed in flames, identified the woman’s house, entered, and found her asleep on her couch. She was unable to get out on her own, so Officer Stephenson carried her in his arms to his patrol truck. As he was getting ready to leave, the woman told him she was worried about her dog. Officer Stephenson then went back into her home and returned to the truck with her dog, driving them all to safety just minutes before her home became engulfed in flames. The fire subsequently destroyed the woman’s home.

Stephenson’s heroic act saved the life of an elderly woman and her dog.

Wildlife Officer Timothy Little:

On September 12, 2015 approximately 3 p.m., Little was working as a safety patrol in the town of Cobb as he and other first responders scrambled to evacuate or assist residents during the Valley Fire.

As the fire began to consume the small town of Cobb, an emergency call went out about an elderly woman trapped in her home and in need of immediate rescue. Hearing radio calls from other rescue personnel saying they were unable to respond because of fire and debris in the roadway, Little immediately headed toward the woman’s home. Driving his patrol vehicle through raging flames and burning road hazards, Little found the house and entered the home where he found an elderly woman trapped with her 11-month old granddaughter. Little rescued both the woman and child, getting them out of their home safely just minutes before fire incinerated her home.

Shortly afterward, Little learned that another elderly woman was trapped in her house and needed serious medical attention. He also learned that no medical transport crews would be able to make it there in time. He raced to provide aid. After locating the house, he found the woman trapped on the second floor, unable to walk. Little carried her down a flight of stairs to a waiting vehicle and escorted them to the hospital. Little then continued to assist in other searches.

Little’s heroic acts saved the lives of two women and one infant.

“Our more than 400 wildlife officers understand and accept their roles as peace officers, caretakers, guardians and public servants,” said CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “They are well trained and prepared to not only deal with wildlife law enforcement, but general peace officer work and first responder duties. The brave and selfless acts by these officers exemplify the outstanding force of CDFW wildlife officers.”

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Hunters, Outdoor Recreationists Alerted to Special Restrictions and Closures Due to Wildfires

As California’s 2015 deer hunting season continues with the opening of additional hunt zones this weekend, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is urging hunters to research where they plan to hunt in advance, as access to some areas may be restricted due to wildfires.

Current information regarding closures and restrictions can be found on CAL FIRE’s California Statewide Fire Map webpage, www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php.

CDFW does not close or open areas due to fires, but leaves that authority to incident commanders with CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW Warden Saves Baby, Two Elderly Women from Burning Homes

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer based in Lake County recently risked his own life to save three lives in the Valley Fire.

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On Saturday, Sept. 12, Warden Timothy Little was working mutual aid law enforcement safety patrols in the town of Cobb, just south of Clear Lake, in support of the Valley Fire. Little, other wildlife officers and numerous first responders were scrambling to evacuate residents trapped or needing assistance from their homes.

As the fire began to consume the small town of Cobb (pop. 1,780) an emergency call went out that an elderly woman was trapped in her home on Pine Summit Road and needed immediate rescue. Hearing radio calls that other units were unable to respond because of fire and debris in the roadway, Little headed toward the home. Driving his four-wheel drive patrol vehicle through raging fire and burning road hazards, he found and entered the home, where he located an elderly woman trapped in the house with her 11-month old granddaughter.

Little safely got both the woman and child out of their home, into his patrol truck and on the road to safety just minutes before fire destroyed the home. Both are now safe with family.

Shortly after this rescue, Little again put his own safety at risk to assist another elderly woman, this time needing transport due to serious medical needs.

When Little learned that no medical transport crews would be able to make it to the woman in time, he raced to Anderson Springs, five miles away, on Hot Springs Road in Middletown, to aid the woman. After locating the house, he found the woman trapped on the second floor, unable to walk.  Little carried her down a flight of stairs to a civilian vehicle and escorted them out of immediate danger before continuing to assist in other searches.

“The entire department is incredibly proud of every warden in the field who is supporting efforts to fight the raging wildfires in northern California,” said CDFW Chief of Patrol David Bess. “Tim Little’s bravery and courage are a credit to both CDFW and the State of California.”

CDFW has more than 20 wildlife officers working around the clock to provide mutual aid support to allied law enforcement agencies, fire crews and paramedics fighting both the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties and the Valley Fire in Lake County.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720