ASCE Leader Reports From California Wildfire Aftermath

Doug Taylor, P.E., M.ASCE, Region 9 disaster preparedness chair, has been rallying ASCE members to help assess and tag structures in Paradise, CA, site of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California history. Taylor provided ASCE News with the following update on the group’s work:

We just completed Day 5, and it’s been a fascinating and wearying experience. Roughly 30 volunteers started on Thursday morning (11 from ASCE, 10 from the American Institute of Architects, and nine from California Building Officials), and we’ve inspected 5,000 homes. The second wave of volunteers will arrive on Thanksgiving Day and Friday and may wrap up inspections by Sunday night. Team morale and cooperation is wonderful.

Many of us drive to and from Redding each day since the nearest hotel is there. Several thousand firefighters, Pacific Gas and Electric, search-and-rescue, and even animal-rescue folks are working in the area and need to be fed and housed. Others stay at the fire camp in a tent with no heat and loud noises all night. It’s pretty rugged.

We estimate that 90 percent of the homes we inspect are burned to the ground. There’s no rhyme or reason why some homes are spared when every adjacent home is burned to the ground. We’ve seen deer, fox, cats, chickens, ducks, and even a goat.

Oddly enough, the air up in Paradise is much less smoky than down in Chico. We haven’t needed masks for the past two days and the sun wasn’t hidden by smoke.

After seeing so much devastation, it will be a very memorable Thanksgiving.

If you’re interested in helping onsite or being trained as a Safety Assessment Evaluator, visit the Cal OES website or email Doug Taylor.

More photos from Doug Taylor

Photos of homes destroyed in fire


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