Evacuation orders were officially lifted at 2 p.m. today, Aug. 5 at the final Whaleback Fire community meeting, with representatives from multiple agencies at Jensen Hall to let residents of the Spaulding and Eagle Lake area know the repopulation plan for their area.
With the fire still at 18,726 acres and 90% contained, residents — and residents only — can now enter their homes.
Curtis Koontz, the Incident Officer for NorCal Team 1, told residents they are in the “mop-up stage” at the fire’s edge and Captain Jones of the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office declaring the Spaulding evacuation order officially lifted as of 2 p.m. Aug. 5.
Jones shared with residents there will be a sheriff’s post at A-1, where residents can take their yellow Forest Service papers they obtained at the meeting. Jones told participants they don’t have to give the officers at the post their number, but to politely stop to show the officer their paper to continue on to their residence.
Jones also told participants the only access road to the Spaulding, Eagle’s Nest and other Eagle Lake areas would be via CA-139 and that there would still be the heavy presence of officers within the area for some time. Jones told participants if they were to see something out of place or someone wandering the are who does not live there, to call the sheriff’s office at any time.
Tom Valentino of the Solid Regional Waste Management is offering a transfer station available as soon as possible to accept residents’ spoiled food. At the meeting, Valentino offered orange garbage bags and said the station would be “open as long as possible to assist at absolutely no cost.”
Valentino told participants there would also be up to 2 debris boxes in the area for other waste if residents find it necessary, also at no cost.
Barbara Longo, the Director of Lassen County Health and Social Services, told residents if they are contemplating what food items to throw out, “Don’t take any chances” and “when in doubt, throw it out,” because they “don’t want a foodborne illness outbreak.”
Longo told residents if they suffer food insecurity because of throwing out food, the county services will “work with you if you need food.” Longo also advised those residents if they had canned food to “clean the top off before they consume” so they don’t introduce themselves to unwanted participles in their food.
Paul Schlobohm of the National Parks Service and the Area Resource Advisor, told residents to expect the weather patterns and the smoke in the area to not change within the next week or so. Schlobohm told residents to not expect to go back “to life as normal” and to “staying indoors” would still be the best thing to do.
Schlobohm said the “particles in the smoke are smaller” than can be protected with the typical dust mask. He advised residents to invest in M95 masks, which will only be effective if sealed properly. Schlobohm recommended contacting Jessica Jones of the Lassen County Public Health to learn how to properly wear them.
Pat Holley, Assistant General Manager of the Lassen Municipal Utility District, told residents, when they go back home, to “turn off what you don’t need…anything you can turn off, turn off.”
Holley said their anticipated target for power to be turned on was scheduled for tomorrow and “once the power is restored, conserve if you can.” Holley said if residents see anything “fishy” surrounding their temporary generator and transformer, to call their response line at 257-4147. Holley said one of the biggest concerns they have surrounds the enclosure of they have in the area, which has a total of 14,000 volts, the primary concern is losing power to the area.