Butte County Search

September 18, 2020
Burn Area in Butte County

Written by Josh Gould.

On September 14th, RMRU and all other rescue teams in California were notified of a county in Northern California needs help with searching the scar area of the Bear Fire (North Complex Fire). Butte County has been hit by another fire. Our team quickly started putting together schedules to coordinate when and who would be able to go help. Eric, Tony, Tyler, James, and I were the first available to respond. Friday September 18th, the five of us headed about six hundred miles north. Friday night we arrived at the command post to check in and get an overview for the next couple days. The command post and campgrounds were located at Loafer Creek Campground, the southeastern part of the burn scar.

On Saturday morning, we were given a briefing of what to look for and the areas we would be searching. RMRU was put on a task force with a couple of other SAR teams. We all stayed on the same team within the task force. We had the task of inspecting an area that had not been searched by any team yet and believed to be untouched by the fires. While clearing our areas, we marked any signs of fires close to structures and any hazards that could cause injury or restrict access to the areas.

Tony, James, Tyler, and Josh on dirt road in unburned Search Area.
Image by Eric.

Once our area was cleared, we set out to help another team on our task force to clear their area. This area was hit by the fire. We were tasked to record the structures and to label them if the needed a follow up search within the footprint of the house or not. During the search, we were able to help get out animals in need of food and water. Once this area was cleared, we set off back to the check in area and gave a debrief to our Task Force Leader. We then headed back to base camp and checked in with command and relaxed and recovered for the next day’s work.

Tyler, Tony, Josh, and James getting Lunch Sacks at Command Post.
Image by Eric.

On Sunday morning, we were given another briefing with an update to the overall search. This new area was also in the burn scar area. These plots of lands had few buildings and lots of land. We searched the plots for building that may not be on our maps and any hazards. Once cleared, we checked in with our Task Force Leader to see if any other teams needed help. Or entire Task force was wrapping up at about the same time. We wrapped up and headed back to command to check in. We were finished early enough to where we would be able to get back home not too late. We packed up and headed back.

RMRU Truck with Butte County Dirt.
Image by Eric.

On the way home, we were told the search would be downsizing due to the incredible turn out of assisting search teams. The area was covered faster because of the help of all the teams that turn out. The time frame of help went from two weeks to just five days. Our members that were on standby for the week and next weekend ended up being called off.
Our team hand a total of 10 members willing to make the track up to the northern part of our state to assist another team. Thank you everyone that went and was willing to go. Great job to all the first responders involved with this search.

RMRU Members Involved: James Eckhardt, Josh Gould, Eric Holden, Tony Hughes, and Tyler Shumway.