Cruzio went through a tense Monday, when the fire started, with flames roaring past our hilltop facility. Then all day Tuesday Cruzio staff was waiting, watching and then racing to re-charge our backup batteries before power ran out. We didn’t completely avoid an outage, but the number of people affected was small and the effect brief.
We felt good about our performance and lucky we’d escaped more damage.
By Wednesday, conditions on Loma’s hilltop had stabilized. The fire still raged south of us — 4,000 acres burning that day — but our access to the site had become pretty routine. The road block was gone. We worked with other folks on the mountaintop, sharing resources and helping each other out.
PG&E told us that power would be off for a week or more, so we settled in for the long haul. Chris Frost, our Director of Technology and Infrastructure, went on TV to explain the situation.
For several days our staff took turns going up the mountain and maintaining the generators. It was a grind, though what we went through didn’t compare to people who’d lost homes or were displaced.
A lot of fast food was consumed and a lot of time was spent looking out over the charred landscape and drifting smoke. Our team saw a dozen or more utility poles burned black and leaning, clearly a big job for PG&E.
Over the next few days, we watched fascinated as PG&E lowered pole after pole from a helicopter into place on the steep mountainside. The utility’s ground crew guided the poles into place and quickly had the new infrastructure up.
Then, well ahead of schedule, just after noon on Monday October 3rd, PG&E restored power to the mountaintop. Cruzio’s staff breathed a sigh of relief. Our saga was over for now.
A week later, at this writing, the fire is 95% contained and people have returned to their homes. In all, the fire destroyed 12 houses along with many outbuildings. Luckily, no one was injured.
Things to know about fire:
- A fire grows much faster than you’d ever imagine, especially in such dry conditions. Fire coming? Get out!
- Preparation is essential. A generous perimeter saved our gear. Our batteries and generator prevented a serious outage.
- Working together in these situations is key. All companies in the facility helped each other, making the situation much more bearable.
- PG&E really has their process down, they were extremely efficient.
- Cal Fire is a heroic organization. We owe a lot to them and we’re very grateful for all their help. Over 2,100 fire fighters came from around the state to work in challenging, steep terrain. As our staff member Colin said, “The firefighters were the most amazing thing, I just had this feeling of WOW! Being up there with them is so different from just knowing they’re up there.”
Photo credits for these posts: Chris Frost, Alison Lowenthal, Colin Miller, and our security camera.