By Daniel Borsuk
On Friday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution ratifying County Administrator David Twa’s Sunday, Oct. 27 proclamation of the existence of a local emergency when the board of supervisors was not in session and could not be called into session immediately.
The supervisors’ action on Friday triggers the county’s application for federal and state funds for reimbursement for fire emergency costs for responding to fires that flared up in Crockett, Bethel Island, Morgan Territory, Oakley and other locations in the county that stretched the resources of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and its Emergency Services Division.
The proclamation states: “Conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within the County, caused by a severe weather event commencing at 8 p.m. on October 26, 2019. The velocity and duration of wind, coupled with low humidity, is driving wildfires in locations causing power disruptions, tree falls and infrastructure damage, and necessitating evacuations; and that these conditions are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the County.”
Contra Costa County Emergency Manager Rick Kovar said while the supervisors’ action sets in motion the application for federal aid that will reimburse the county for 75 percent of the costs and state aid for 22 percent of the costs, the county will have to pick up the remainder of about 2.5 percent of the Oct. 26 emergency expenses.
Kovar said as of Friday a total cost figure has not yet been compiled for the Oct. 26 fire emergency activities and probably won’t be revealed until perhaps Nov. 8
“It was a very collective effort by all parties,” said CCFPD Chief Lewis Brossard, who noted the outbreak of five fires around the county occurred about the time firefighters were cleaning up from a major blaze at a three-story building in downtown Walnut Creek. Concerning the Office of the Sheriff, Chief Brossard remarked “pretty spectacular work.”
“The county prepares for emergencies,” said County Administrator David Twa. “Our teams did the work they were trained to do. We are grateful that there was no loss of human life. We will continue to support residents and encourage you to stay prepared.”
“You were so prepared,” said District 3 Supervisors Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I’m very proud of Contra Costa County. You did a very good job. We all came together.”
“The weather conditions were such that there were a series of fires one after another that led to evacuation orders in multiple parts of the county on that day alone,” said Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond. “Throughout the local emergency, Con Fire and other fire district firefighters, Sheriff’s Office, county departments’ employees and other partners including the National Weather Service, worked diligently to coordinate in the county’s Emergency Operations Center.”