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Grass Fire Burns Close to SLAC Linac

Yesterday, in SLAC Today, we ran an article announcing controls to reduce the probability of fire due to this year's unusually high fire risk. As fate would have it, we were immediately reminded of this risk. Just before 1:00 p.m. on Monday, a very alert member of SLAC's Facilities Department saw smoke from a fire on Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve on the south side of the Linac near Sector 14, and immediately called 911. Within a few minutes, responders from SLAC Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H), SLAC Security and fire department units from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside and Cal-Fire responded along with San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. Shortly thereafter, air attack units (a helicopter, two aerial tankers and a spotter plane) from Cal-Fire also flew over the fire, although they were not pressed into service.

This outstanding reaction gave the responders an opportunity to quickly control the fire to less than one acre. Although smoke drifted over the Linac and the fire burned to the fence line, it never progressed onto SLAC property; there were no injuries and no damage to SLAC equipment. The cause is under investigation by fire officials.

This is a timely reminder that California is experiencing its worst fire season in history. Since June 20, almost 2,100 fires have burned just under 1 million acres (1,560 square miles; equal to the entire state of Rhode Island). In comparison, in an average year, 500,000 acres burn per year across the state. Last year also saw a particularly bad fire season; in 2007, 1 million acres burned. With a lot of very hot and dry weather still to come this summer, it's imperative that we all remain very conscientious and careful. As yesterday showed, early detection and notification is the key to minimizing damage. If you see or suspect a fire, immediately call 911!

Brian Sherin, SLAC Today, July 22, 2008

Top image: Firefighters from Woodside Fire Department begin containment of the Jasper Ridge Preserve fire.
Bottom image: After 90 minutes, the fire is contained, but continues to smolder.