California Hams Activate to Support Shelter Communications Following Wildfire
Amateur Radio volunteers in California’s Tuolumne County assisted local emergency managers and the American Red Cross by supporting communication at a shelter in Groveland, set up in the wake of the El Portal Fire in Yosemite National Park. The National Park Service reported that the fire got its start in the community of El Portal on July 26, and evacuations were put into effect for Foresta and Old El Portal. In addition, the Crane flat Campground was evacuated, and Big Oak Flat Road was closed.
Tuolumne County ARES Emergency Coordinator Carl Croci, NI6Z, reported that several radio amateurs responded to the call from Tuolumne and Fresno on July 26 to assist with shelter communications. A UHF and VHF repeater were cross-banded to cover the necessary expanse between Fresno, site of the Red Cross Headquarters, and the shelter site in Groveland.
Radio amateurs were able to stand down the following day after a 20 hour communications emergency. Eight pieces of traffic were handled.
According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), the fast-moving El Portal fire was threatening to spiral out of control. The fire, one of more than 120 wildfires in the US West, was reported just 5 percent contained. It is burning across several square miles of Yosemite National Park and the neighboring Stanislaus National Forest. More than 500 firefighters are tackling the flames. — Thanks to Carl Croci, NI6Z, and Fresno County ARES EC/RACES Radio Officer Glen Caine, N6HEW