From the ARES E-Letter for November 21, 2018
(11/13/18) From Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, ARRL News Desk(summarized) — Amateur Radio volunteers have been active on several fronts as wildfires raged in large sections of California.
In Butte County, northern California, the Camp Fire caused multiple shelters to be opened to evacuees, with five Sacramento Valley ARESgroups involved in communications support between the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center (DOC) and the shelters.In addition to supporting the shelters, ARES members were also tasked by Red Cross to shadow Red Cross delivery vehicles to provide communications in the mountain areas to the shelters.
ARES voice,WINLINK, and email were used to pass shelter counts and tactical messages between the shelter and the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center and Cal Office of Emergency Services. The Red Cross supported ARES at the shelters with hot spots and backup radios.
Working 12-hour shifts, Sacramento Valley Section District Emergency Coordinator 3 Michael Joseph, KK6GZB, staffed the Red Cross radio station as net control for the DOC, passing messages and tracking ARES personnel. Sacramento ARES members have been pitching in as needed. Joseph also has been coordinating ARES deployments as needed.
The Woolsey Fire swept through the westernmost portion of Los Angeles County and the easternmost area of Ventura County in the ARRL Santa Barbara Section. “Governmental radio systems used by fire and sheriff held up,” said Los Angeles Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF. “Evacuees went to areas where cell phone service was generally available.” She said Los Angeles ARES (ARES LAX) was not activated because no county hospitals were in the affected area and no hospital outside the fire zone was in danger of losing communication. A team of ARES LAX operators organized by LAX-Northwest District Emergency Coordinator Roozy Moabery, W1EH, did perform logistics work at a major drop-off site in the San Fernando Valley for evacuee supplies.
On the air for the Woolsey Fire, both the Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Service (DCS) — Amateur Radio volunteers overseen by the Sheriff’s Department — and the City of Los Angeles Fire Department Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS) operated nets and monitored their respective frequencies. “The DCS group at Lost Hills Sheriff Station covers most of the Los Angeles County areas affected by the Woolsey Fire and communicated with organized amateurs in the cities of Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village, and unincorporated mountain areas when not affected by respective mandatory evacuation orders,” Feinberg said. “The City of Los Angeles’ ACS group was involved when the city’s West Hills neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley became the fire’s northeastern front, forcing about half the West Hills community to evacuate.”
Feinberg said ACS members have also been involved with delivering food and water supplies to LAFD firefighters and performing fire patrols. American Red Cross volunteers are reported to be using Amateur Radio in connection with some of their fire response activities, Feinberg reported.
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And here is an 11/19/18 update: Repeaters, Amateur TV Play Communication Role in California Fire Emergency