Late Monday afternoon, the Hunter Dam Fire burned within 50 feet of the Calaveras County Water District’s Hunter’s Water Treatment Plant facility in Avery, which provides water service to more than 6,000 customers who live along the upper Highway 4 Corridor. CCWD is grateful to emergency responders who quickly doused the fire before it damaged the District’s plant, which could have caused a widespread disruption to the community’s water supply.
“The firefighters on this incident worked like a well-oiled machine,” said Scott Lunsford, CCWD’s Hunter’s Water Treatment Plant supervisor. “It was a very well-orchestrated effort. These firefighters are awesome.”
The Fire sparked to life at 3 p.m. when a tree service company cut off the top of a pine tree and it struck power lines. The lines broke, fell to the ground and started a brush fire. Lunsford was on duty and immediately called 911 to report the fire, and Ebbetts Pass Fire Protection District was on scene within minutes. The water plant’s power supply was knocked out by the tree, but CCWD’s redundant power supply generator kicked on immediately, allowing the plant to continue operating. No customers experienced water supply disruptions during the fire.
Fortunately for firefighters, CCWD had three fire hydrants in close proximity to the fire. Firefighters were able to hook their engines directly to the hydrants and fight the fire with a consistent, high-flow supply of water. Having a public water supply system that supports fire flow operations is a huge asset to this county, and CCWD is proud to provide this vital service to help protect communities in Calaveras from fire. In addition to CCWD’s hydrants, the Columbia Helitack Base sent Copter 404 which had the advantage of a reservoir in close proximity to the fire. After dropping off its hand-crew on the Avery Middle School field, the pilot of 404 filled up his bucket with water from the nearby Hunter’s Reservoir numerous times. An air tanker from the Columbia Air Attack Base also made a precision fire retardant drop right next to the water treatment plant to protect it from the advancing flames. The combination of the quick response by firefighters, location of CCWD’s hydrants and the proximity of Hunter’s Reservoir all helped firefighters contain this fire to only five acres and prevent it from exploding into a larger incident.
The District sends a heartfelt thanks to the men and women who responded to this fire and protected the community’s water supply, along with life and property in the Avery area.