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January 17, 2019

First Early Response Team Responds to Woolsey Fire

by Greg Fellers of Disaster Response Task Force

The last day of 2018, weather wise, proved to be cool generally sunny but windy. Ideal conditions for wearing Tyvek suits which quickly get very hot when wearing them. Ten Early Response Team members converged by prior appointment at the site at 8:30 am to greet the homeowner.

Through our contacts at the Disaster Assistance Center in Agoura Hills, the homeowners requested help sorting through the remains of their home. They had to wait for the county to provide a notice that the site had been cleared of hazardous waste. They had signed up with another organization who reneged on their “promise” of assistance. At the site, we had a “right of entry” form signed and verbal permission that photographs might be taken.
We spent a total of 70 volunteer hours at the site with the homeowner directing team members to locations where recoverable materials might possibly be found.

The fire’s intensity rendered nearly everything to twisted metal and charred clumps. The puddled aluminum that was once a car, a grande piano, only the metal “harp” was recognizable. This was recovered for an artist friend, minor identifiable pieces, plates, clumped flatware, melted wine bottles, distorted file cabinets were recorded by camera and set aside on a table.

The homeowner with his wife and artist friends expressed their thanks. The metal pieces were heavy and often needed multiple people to safely move them to search underneath. Not something that could have been done safely by them alone.

The team members were United Methodists from their local church in Murietta, Ontario, Glendale, Holman and Camarillo.

This is what our connection can do.