PALMDALE – Numerous volunteers from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station were recognized by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for their assistance with evacuations, road closures, and reconnaissance efforts during last year’s Powerhouse fire.
The Powerhouse fire burned for 11 days, beginning May 30, 2013. The fire started at Hydroelectric Powerhouse No.1, in San Francisquito Canyon, just north of Santa Clarita. The flames quickly spread due to Santa Ana winds, high temperatures and dry brush. It burned over 33,000 acres and destroyed 53 structures as it moved through the communities of Green Valley, Leona Valley, Elizabeth Lake, and Lake Hughes. It took more than 2100 fire fighters from 40 agencies to finally contain the blaze, which threatened thousands of homes and displaced over 2000 citizens.
Sheriff’s Reserve Commander John Johnston and Reserve Deputy Andrew Petty of the Antelope Valley Search and Rescue team were responsible for the coordinated evacuation of Green Valley. Due to poor radio communications in the mountainous area, they established a make-shift command post on the hood of their rescue truck on the side of the roadway. The main command post sent patrol personnel from throughout Los Angeles County to Commander Johnston for deployment. Problems arose when the responding deputies started getting lost on the mountain roads. Commander Johnston assigned Volunteer on Patrol personnel who live in the area to act as guides for the deputies to keep them from getting lost.
All of the volunteers had been working non-stop for three days prior to this incident. The Volunteer on Patrol personnel live in the affected areas, so they knew the area well. They didn’t know if their own houses were in peril as they guided the deputies and went door to door conducting evacuations.
Despite the loss of property and charred landscape, there was no loss of life – thanks in major part to the actions of the following volunteers:
- Reserve Commander John Johnston
- Reserve Captain Robb Thompson
- Reserve Deputy Andrew “Goose” Petty
- Reserve Deputy Jeff Godde
- Reserve Deputy Trevor Samoriski
- Civilian Volunteer Specialist Chris Neil
- Volunteer on Patrol Joe Brong
- Volunteer on Patrol Mike Foxworth
- Volunteer on Patrol Gene Heintz
- Volunteer on Patrol Robin Kennard
- Volunteer on Patrol Jay Tallent
- Volunteer on Patrol Debi Tallent
- Volunteer on Patrol Frank Toothaker
- Volunteer on Patrol Dick Zahnter
- Volunteer on Patrol Susan Zahnter
For more information on the numerous volunteer outreach opportunities available through the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, visit www.PalmdaleVolunteers.com, or contact Deputy Jodi Wolfe at 661-272-2420.
(Information via press release from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.)