Early Season Fires at Lake Berryessa...

...a Reminder of What People Already Know…ALL IT TAKES IS ONE SPARK

by Evan Kilkus 

A spark from a campfire, a generator catching an RV on fire, a firecracker of some sort… all causes of grass fires around Lake Berryessa this Summer, all calling out a massive showing of force by firefighters. Visitors to Lake Berryessa, and residents, are urged to take extreme caution thru October, as hot temperatures, sporadic winds, and dry grasses can lead to disaster.

JUNE 22 – A generator caught fire, igniting the adjacent RV, 2 trucks, and a couple thousand square feet of grass in Steele Canyon Recreation Area. Fire personnel arrived on scene just in time to extinguish the growing grass fire.

6.22.17 Steele Canyon Fire

JULY 3 – Berryessa Highlands residents heard a truck go by on Steele Canyon Rd and then a bang from an unknow source, and next thing they saw, was the hill on fire. Alert and prepared neighbors started calling each-other to prepare to evacuate, but residents were more interested in fighting the fire than fleeing. Approximately 50 neighbors from all over started showing up with hoses and shovels, and they were extremely successful at slowing the spread of the flames. When fire crews made it approximately 30 minutes later, they were able to quickly fully contain the fire at about 2-3 acres.

Steele Canyon rd


JULY 4 - A fire started by an unknown cause just beyond the Pope Canyon Bridge, but a rapid response by fire crews and CAL Fire Helicopter 104 based out of Boggs Mt. allowed firefighters to contain the fire at under 1 acre.

JULY 6 – The “Winters Fire” started along HWY 128 between the Monticello Dam and Winters, where fires seem to happen almost annually.  Some years it has been documented car crashes, some years the cause is unknow.  This fire started in the early afternoon, and despite crews best and almost successful efforts to contain the fire at about 100 acres, the fire jumped the firebreaks and ended up growing to 2269 acres by the time it was done spreading 3 days later.  This fire resulted in the closure of HWY 128 from Thursday afternoon thru Saturday evening, on a busy holiday weekend, and led to evacuations of adjacent homes.

JULY 24 - Just after 3 PM a camper started a campfire in their fire pit at Steele Canyon Recreation Area, and then went down to the water to go for a swim. Minutes later winds blew a spark into the nearby grass, and the dense grass was ablaze. 

6.22.17 Steele Canyon Camper Fire

By the time the campers were able to run up to their campsite the flames had grown, but they were able to slow the growth by dumping their cooler and water bottles on the fire. Within minutes resort staff and a Harvest Sanitation truck were able to help douse the fire with a fresh water hose on the pumper truck. Fire crews then arrived to fully extinguish any hot spots and ensure that the fire was out.

PLEASE let all of these fires be a reminder to anyone camping, visiting, or living at or near Lake Berryessa... All it takes is a spark...

Never leave a camp fire unattended! It is not a good idea to have a camp fire if it is windy and hot, even if there is no official "Red Flag" warning. If you must have a fire in the summer on a cool day/night when conditions permit, please keep it very small. Be careful with any source of fire ignition, from a camp fire, to BBQ, to cigarette ashes, to a hot exhaust pipe.

Defensible Space can eliminate the chance of starting a wildfire. Remove the fuel, remove the hazard.

pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018