Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

Antioch transient arrested for assault with deadly weapon, arson for starting fire off Hillcrest Ave. Wednesday evening

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Firefighters clean up after the fire on the hill above Hillcrest Avenue near Wildhorse Road and the suspect arrested by Antioch Police, Wednesday evening, Oct. 13, 2021. Top photo by Allen Payton, Bottom two by APD

Several homes threatened

By Sergeant Michael Mellone, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

Arson fire on Hillcrest Ave. hillside Oct. 13, 2021. Photo: APD

On October 13, 2021, at approximately 6:05 pm, APD patrol officers were dispatched to a homeless encampment located near the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Wild Horse Drive on report of an assault with a deadly weapon. While responding to the incident, officers learned the suspect (later identified as Brian Dean, age 40) struck the victim in the head with a metal pipe and then lit a rag on fire, tossing it into the victim’s encampment. The lit rag fully engulfed the encampment and spread to the adjacent hillside, threatening several homes on Spaulding Street. Firefighters from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District responded and quickly extinguished the fire before it spread to the adjacent homes. An alert resident took a photograph of the suspect as he was fleeing on a distinctive bicycle and provided it to officers at the scene.

Con Fire trucks and crews responded to the scene. Photo: APD

At about 8:15 pm, Antioch Police Corporal James Colley spotted a matching individual on the distinctive bicycle crossing Hillcrest Avenue at Larkspur Drive. He was detained without incident and found to be in possession of an incendiary device. Officers placed Dean under arrest for three felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, arson, and possession of an incendiary device – he was booked at the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez. This fire was the second one at the same location in the last two days. The victim sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Photo: Allen Payton

Photo: APD

The Antioch Police Department would like to thank the residents of Spaulding Street who assisted officers and firefighters with access to the scene, along with the alert resident who came forward with photographic evidence allowing us to locate the suspect. This incident is being jointly investigated by the Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Arson Investigator.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.


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PG&E disputes Shasta County criminal charges related to 2020 Zogg Fire

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

2020 Zogg Fire statistics. Source: CalFire

SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E Corporation shared the following statement from CEO Patti Poppe today, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 regarding criminal charges filed by the Shasta County District Attorney’s office related to the September 2020 Zogg Fire. The utility company was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four people, and other felonies and misdemeanors for the Zogg Fire and other fires that started in the county over the last year and a half.

“We are all devastated by the effects of wildfire here in California. My heart aches. I have seen firsthand how devastating it is and have spoken with many of those most harmed. These communities are the hometowns where my coworkers live and work, too. While I am new to this environment, I hope my heart never becomes hardened to the devastation that catastrophic wildfire can cause.

I came to PG&E to make it right and make it safe, which is a commitment that my 40,000 coworkers and contract partners all share. We’ve already resolved many victim claims arising from the Zogg Fire, along with the claims by the counties of Shasta and Tehama. And we are working hard to resolve the remaining claims.

We’ve accepted CAL FIRE’s determination, reached earlier this year, that a tree contacted our electric line and started the Zogg Fire. We accept that conclusion.  But we did not commit a crime.

Today’s climate and unprecedented drought have forever changed the relationship between trees and power lines. And please know we’re not sitting idly by. We have established a new standard for our lines and the vegetation near them because it poses such a real risk to our communities.

For example, on the Zogg Fire, the tree that started the fire is one of over 8 million trees within striking distance to our lines. Here are a few other facts.

Between October 2018 and last year’s Zogg Fire:

  • Two trained arborists walked this line and independent of one another determined the tree in question could stay.
  • We trimmed or removed over 5,000 trees on this very circuit alone.
  • This year we will remove 300,000 trees statewide.

This vital safety work is all done by real people who are trying every day to do the right thing. Trained, professional people – my PG&E coworkers and our extended contractor family. Arborists, specifically, are trained professionals and sometimes, just like doctors or architects, they can have professional differences. There will be debates about the facts around the tree that started the Zogg Fire. Professional debate in the service of doing what is right and continuously improving.

This was a tragedy, four people died. And my coworkers are working so hard to prevent fires and the catastrophic losses that come with them. They have dedicated their careers to it, criminalizing their judgment is not right. Failing to prevent this fire is not a crime.

Right now, PG&E is:

  • Investing more than $1.4 billion this year alone in vegetation management;
  • Removing 300,000 trees and trimming 1 million more;
  • We’re working toward burying 10,000 miles of power lines;
  • We’re installing remote and micro grids to eliminate the wires altogether; and
  • We’re reestablishing and building our system to a new standard of resilience that keeps our communities safe and powered as our climate continues to change around us.

We are seeing signs of progress. For example, even during this year, with extreme drought conditions, we have reduced our ignitions over 50%.

That is our best ever performance since we have been tracking this and yet, we are still dissatisfied. That’s why we are not going to stop there.

We’re putting everything we’ve got into preventing wildfires and reducing the risk. Though it may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime, what I know is the company of PG&E is people,  40,000 people who get up every day to make it safe and to end catastrophic wildfire and tragedies like this.

Let’s be clear, my coworkers are not criminals.  We welcome our day in court so people can learn just that.”

Poppe’s statement is also available on PG&E Currents and broadcast quality video is available here.

Details about PG&E’s efforts to further reduce the growing wildfire risk, harden its systems, and use new technologies to help keep its communities safe can be found in the company’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

About PG&E Corporation

PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) is the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E or the “Utility”), a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about the beliefs, expectations, estimates, future plans and strategies of PG&E Corporation and the Utility, including but not limited to the criminal charges filed in connection with the 2020 Zogg fire and the Utility’s vegetation management and system hardening efforts. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions, which management believes are reasonable, and on information currently available to management, but are necessarily subject to various risks and uncertainties. In addition to the risk that these assumptions prove to be inaccurate, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements include factors disclosed in PG&E Corporation and the Utility’s joint annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, their most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2021, and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available on PG&E Corporation’s website at and on the SEC website at PG&E Corporation and the Utility undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether due to new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by law.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Two fire boards approve annexation of far east county fire district with larger Con Fire

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Contra Costa Fire and East Contra Costa Fire Protection Districts to move forward with applications to Local Agency Formation Commission

By Steve Hill, PIO, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District & Steve Aubert, Fire Marshal/PIO, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) announced Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, their boards of directors have each approved resolutions for the annexation of ECCFPD into the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. The agencies are now expected to make applications to the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for formal approval of the annexation.

“Annexation into Con Fire is a huge victory for the businesses and residents of East Contra Costa,” said ECCFPD Board of Directors President Brian Oftedal. “We explored every option to fix this historically underfunded district and provide a better service delivery model. Annexation will improve response times, open fire stations and provide a paramedic level of service for our communities.”

ECCFPD was formed in November of 2002 by combining the Bethel Island Fire District, the East Diablo Fire District, and the Oakley Fire District.  It serves Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron and the unincorporated area to the Clayton city limits.

ECCFPD Service Area Map.

“I am so excited and proud of the teamwork that has brought us to this point,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board Chair Diane Burgis, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “With the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors acting as the Con Fire fire board unanimously approving the request to formally apply for annexation of ECCFPD, and the ECCFPD board voting unanimously to move forward, we are a giant step closer to providing improved fire and rescue services in East Contra Costa County.”

“I look forward to continuing to work to push this across the finish line,” she added.

Once approved by LAFCo, Con Fire will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities and equipment of today’s ECCFPD and the newly merged organization will provide improved fire and emergency services to the more than 128,000 residents of eastern Contra Costa County. The annexation approval process is expected to take four-to-six months followed by operational and administrative consolidation of the two entities.

“I am pleased by the decisions of the two agencies’ boards, approving our requests to formally apply for annexation of East Contra Costa Fire into Con Fire,” said Chief Lewis Broschard of Con Fire. “I look forward to now beginning in earnest the implementation of this long-studied initiative that will provide more effective, efficient and safer fire and emergency services across our county.”

Benefits of annexation for residents are expected to include more coordinated, cohesive and streamlined fire and emergency services. While both fire districts already work very closely on mutual aid assignments across current borders, each maintains separate operations, training and administrative functions, creating potential for economies of scale by bringing the separate operational entities under one administrative structure.

Another important benefit will be better alignment of firefighting models across districts that could net both increased fire services and improved firefighter safety. Annexation is also expected to reduce current burdens on the agencies’ busiest stations by increasing resources within Battalion 5 in East County.

ECCFPD Chief Brian Helmick. Official photo

“ECCFPD’s citizens and businesses are one step closer to receiving adequate fire and rescue service levels,” said ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick. “My staff and I will continue to diligently work to ensure the remaining consolidation processes go through seamlessly and in a timely manner.”

When reached for comment, he added, “it still needs both LAFCo and state Board of Equalization approval. It is anticipated both those processes will go smoothly and we expect to be one agency by March 2022. It’s just a process issue. At this time, we have heard of no opposition to either board’s identical resolutions.”

Asked about what his new position will be, Helmick responded, “that’s still being worked out. We’ll probably know what that looks like in the next couple months. They’re working on finalizing positions for many people in the organization.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Con Fire Board, unanimously approved a resolution for Con Fire to annex East Contra Costa Fire in its regular monthly meeting on September 14, 2021.

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted unanimously to move forward with consolidation with Contra Costa County Fire Protection District at a special Fire Board meeting on September 16, 2021. (See related article)

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader – – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the county. In 2020, the District responded to some 75,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.

About East Contra Costa Fire Protection District — The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) is a rural-funded fire district that currently operates three fire stations and has a three-station deficit. The district protects a population of more than 128,000 across its 249 square-mile service area. ECCFPD provides firefighting personnel, emergency medical services (basic life support) and fire prevention to the residents and businesses of the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, and unincorporated communities of Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory. Learn more at or social media via Facebook (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District), Instagram(@east_contra_costa_fire), Twitter (@ECCFPD ) or our YouTube channel (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District).


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Fire fighters protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Contra Costa Supervisors meeting

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Goes into effect tomorrow, Sept. 17; Board supports LAFCO consolidation of fire departments

By Daniel Borsuk

With the clock ticking, a battalion of upset Contra Costa County Fire District fire fighters remotely protested before the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors that they refuse to obey a “draconian” August 13 Contra Costa Health Services order requiring county first responders to be fully vaccinated or face termination.

The county health order that goes into effect Friday, Sept. 17 was drafted by Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano and adopted by the board of supervisors in a closed session because of its employment ramifications for many veteran fire fighters and sheriff deputies and other first responders who might refuse to take the vaccine for personal, political or religious reasons.

Dr. Farnitano claims the tough vaccine employment order for first responders arises at a time the number of COVID-19 patients in county hospitals is on the rise.

But a check with the Contra Costa Health Department’s COVID-19 website shows there are 154 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals. That is down 9.3 percent over the past two weeks, the CCCHD website showed.

In addition, the county health department reported 2,421 active COVID-19 cases. That is down 45.9 percent from two weeks ago.

Nearly 85 percent of Contra Costa residents are vaccinated, county health department data shows. The national vaccination rate is 73.9 percent.

The new vaccine employment edict applies to fire department and sheriff office personnel. There were no personnel from the sheriff’s office who protested against Dr. Farnitano’s vaccination/employment order.

Nearly 40 firefighters, many with more than 20 years in service, from all ranks including engineers, firefighters, and captains, protested against the county health officer’s order.

“This is an infringement of our freedom of choice,” said Collin Spencer, a fire fighter/paramedic.

Upon opposing the vaccine mandate, fire fighter Nick Sandburg, a father of two with a “pregnant wife” commented, “I don’t think the vaccine is effective. I oppose the vaccine mandate. Just give us universal testing.”

“None of us took this lightly,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “This is about protecting the public.”

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen was more direct commenting “I am really shocked about the misinformation that our fire fighters have about the COVID-19 vaccine. Somewhere there is a big disconnect.”

It’ll be interesting what the fire fighters will do when the Sept. 17 deadline arrives. The county could be in a major fire crisis if large numbers of well trained, experienced fire fighters are let go especially during the start of the county’s peak fire season.

In the past month, there were 206 vegetation fires that CCCFD responded to and in one day there were seven structure fires, reported Contra Costa County Fire Department Chief Louis Brousard III.

Board Supports LAFCO Consolidation of Fire Departments

Supervisors, serving as commissioners of the Contra Costa County Fire District, pushed along on a 5-0 vote to have the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) to act on consolidating the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and financially struggling East Contra Costa Fire District.

ECCFD board member Joe Young told supervisors he will oppose the consolidation at the district’s board meeting on Sept. 16 because the consolidated district will continue to inadequately fund fire services in Oakley, Brentwood, and Discovery Bay. Young not elaborate at the supervisors’ meeting.

“There are a lot of details that have yet to be addressed on consolidation,” admitted CCCFPD Fire Chief Broussard. “We’ll bring leaders from both organizations to make this a successful annexation.”

While giving Board Chair Diane Burgis credit for being a key player in the merger of the two districts, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said the newly enlarged fire district will draw fire protection upgrades especially with equipment and personnel once “millions of dollars of Proposition X sales tax funds” pour into the district. Gioia was a big backer for the Prop. X ballot measure to appear on last November’s election ballot.

A proposal to consolidate the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District into the enlarged CCCFPD was not considered by the supervisors. That proposal was dropped.


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League of Women Voters to hold online panel discussion on “Wildfires…Be Prepared!” Thursday, Sept. 16

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

By Gail Murray

Contra Costa County has many high fire danger areas.  How will you know when to evacuate? If the power is out, will you be able to use your mobile phone? How can you keep wildfire smoke out of your home?

These and other questions will be the focus of “Wildfires…Be Prepared!” on Thursday, September 16 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom.  The program, sponsored by the Contra Costa County Library and the League of Women Voters of both Diablo Valley and West Contra Costa County, will feature a panel of experts to provide information and answer your questions:

  • State Senator Nancy Skinner, funding programs available for wildfire preparation;
  • Assistant Chief Fire Marshall Chris Bachman, how communities can prepare for fire dangers;
  • PG&E leader Mark Van Gorder, plans for Public Safety Power Shutoffs;
  • United Policyholders’ Emily Rogan, how homeowners and renters can prepare for long-term recovery from a fire.

The panel will be moderated by Brentwood City Council Member Karen Rarey.

Learn what a FireWise Council is and how the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) can provide neighborhood communications.

To attend, sign up at the link below:

Check for dates and times when the program will be available afterwards for broadcast  on CCTV.

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OP-ED: Wildfires aren’t the only things burning in California

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Every year seems to bring one challenge after another, and in California, we’re used to tackling them head-on. But while Californians have become accustomed to wildfire season and the unpredictability it brings, patients in Contra Costa County have unfortunately also become accustomed to their quality of emergency medical services (EMS) going up in flames. To make matters worse, our state officials are considering legislation that would guarantee this inadequate patient care continues.

As many Contra Costa residents are well aware, the county fire departments have absorbed ambulance services – previously provided by private operators at a lower cost to taxpayers – to pad their already bloated pensions since 2016. What many residents probably don’t know, is that 60 to 80 percent of the fire department’s budget goes to paying off their pension obligations. The California Pension Tracker notes that the market basis pension liability per household is $81,634. That sum surpasses many residents’ annual income. To fund upcoming pension payments that are currently underfunded, fire unions have called for additional tax measures and service redistribution that ultimately leaves county residents at a disadvantage. So, while residents are seeing costs go up, they’re seeing EMS response times and quality of care diminish. That’s just not right.

In Contra Costa, our ambulance services are dictated by something deemed the Alliance model. This is where the fire department is given complete control of all emergency services, without the typical oversight of an EMS agency. This type of model breeds misbehavior because oversight is virtually non-existent, and the fire department can run ambulance services as they see fit. It’s no wonder that in 2018 the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (CEMSA) suspected that Costa Costa’s largest fire department, ConFire, colluded with the county’s local EMS Agency to rig bidding on contracts that supported public-private partnerships in ambulance services. They simply want the services for themselves, while subcontracting it to a private company for cheap. A win-win for ConFire, but a loss for everyone else.

Assemblyman Tim Grayson introduced legislation that would codify this backwards EMS services model at the state level, and Contra Costa’s misbehavior will become commonplace. Assembly Bill 389 (AB 389) allows a county to develop an EMS program where the fire department holds all decision-making power regarding ambulance services. AB 389 not only hurts the patients EMS programs serve, but it also hurts the programs’ workers too. This legislation hinders the worker’s ability to bargain over working conditions, like fatigue relief, and is one of the many reasons both AFSCME and SEIU have publicly opposed it.

As healthcare workers are already facing higher levels of burnout and exhaustion, now is not the time to diminish what benefits they are rightfully given. Instead of championing measures that support high-functioning workers and elevated patient care, state officials are being hoodwinked by fire unions to further their own agendas. I find it troubling that ConFire gave themselves a 15 percent raise in the middle of a pandemic, rather than putting money towards community services. Yet, state officials still think they are the poster child of success and other counties should follow their lead.

Our elected officials should support legislation where quality care for patients and quality pay for EMS workers are the foundation, not inflating pensions to keep with the current status quo. Fires are raging across our great state, and that’s where fire unions should keep their focus.

Mark Fernwood


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Antioch apartment fire burns four units, impacts 16 total displacing 21 residents Wednesday

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Con Fire crews battle a fire at an apartment complex on Tabora Drive in Antioch, Wednesday afternoon, July 21, 2021. Photos: ConFire

Started out as vegetation fire; destroys two cars; Red Cross to assist 13 people with housing, so far

By Allen Payton

A fire in an apartment complex on Tabora Drive in Antioch, Wednesday afternoon, burned four units, left 16 units uninhabitable and 21 residents displaced, so far. Of those displaced, eight people were able to find housing on their own, while the Red Cross will be working to help the other 13 residents, tonight, according to Con Fire on-call PIO Joe Ottolini. But that figure could increase.

According to tweets on the Con Fire PIO Twitter feed, a wind-driven vegetation fire off of James Donlon Blvd. and Tabora Drive, that started shortly after 3:00 p.m., burned into a 16-unit, two-story apartment building on Tabora. Four apartments were extensively damaged. A neighboring four-unit building has exterior damage. Two cars were destroyed. Residents of 20 units impacted, with residents of four units displaced. There were no injuries reported.

“It was first thought that there were 20 apartment units that were damaged,” Ottolini said. “But we’re down to four units that are uninhabitable. Battalion Chief Lutzow, who was in charge of the incident, put together the list of people for the Red Cross to try and get the 13 people housed, tonight.”

However, the total number of units affected changed Wednesday evening. According to Antioch District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica who was on the scene meeting with both Chief Lutzow and residents, “16 units are uninhabitable due to lack of power and water.”

“There are people believed to be on their way home so the number of people displaced may increase or stay the same,” Barbanica shared.

“It started somewhere along the pathway near the dumpster area,” he added.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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Rep. McNerney to host virtual Town Hall on wildfire preparedness and response Thursday

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

With reps from Cal Office of Emergency Services, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, Fede3ral Communications Commission

Devastating and deadly wildfires have blazed across our state last year. With over 4.2 million acres burned, 2020 was the largest wildfires season recorded in California’s history. With extreme hot and dry weather this year, wildfire activity may be more widespread, potentially putting even more people in danger. Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) will be hosting a virtual town hall on Thursday, July 15th from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM to discuss what you can expect this season and answer questions on how you and our community can prepare and stay safe. He will be joined by representatives from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

What: Rep. Jerry McNerney Hosts Virtual Town Hall on Wildfire Preparedness and Response

            Featuring representatives from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District and FCC.

Who: Hosted by Congressman Jerry McNerney

Featuring Special Guests:

  • Brian Marshall, Fire and Rescue Chief, Cal OES
  • Steve Aubert, Fire Marshal, ECCFPD
  • Justin Cain, Chief of the Operations and Emergency Management Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, FCC

When: Thursday, July 15th

             6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

To join online:

To join by phone:

(669) 900-6833  

Webinar ID: 825 9461 3212

Passcode: 543622 

Participants can join via phone or by using the webinar link above and can submit questions in advance here.


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