CAL FIRE faces questions over Fawn Fire

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. (CNN/KCRA) – This past weekend, there was a heated meeting in Shasta County, California, for people affected by the Fawn Fire. What started as a fire “status update” and “question and answer” session ended with fire managers hearing from some upset members of the community.

Shasta County resident Jim Murphy said, “Nobody’s answering that question. Why were the planes pulled off? Why didn’t they keep going until that son of a ***** was out?”
Emotions were running high at a community meeting about the Fawn Fire.

“It was early,” Murphy said. “There was still lots of daylight and I’m going to stand by that because I was there, watching them go overhead. There was still plenty of daylight and should they shouldn’t have stopped.”

CAL FIRE faced tough questions about the air attack and fire suppression efforts on the fire the day it broke out.

“I’m not disputing what you’re saying,” an unidentified CAL FIRE official said. “I’m telling you from what I know and my information, we dropped 53,000 gallons of retardant in an hour and a half and those aircraft were never called off. We don’t call our aircraft off as long as the fire is burning, that is our policy.”

Several dozen people affected by the fawn fire gathered at Shasta College for an update on the fire status, expected path, how the weather could affect the firefighting efforts, and fire managers hearing concerns raised by people in the room like Murphy, who watched the initial air attack from his home and thought it ended too soon.

“They came over super-fast and they were making a circle, they would hit it and they would go around, they would fill up and they’d come right back over and they, and I couldn’t believe how quick they got it out… or so I thought,” Murphy said.

In the end, he said fire managers answered his questions. They said the air attack ended that day after dark when it was no longer safe to fly.

Jonathan Pangburn with CAL FIRE said, “It is a very difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. All we can ask is that as we provide empathy to the public, that we get a little bit of that back to us because we are all doing our best to serve the public.”

CAL FIRE stayed and talked with families at the meeting one on one until their concerns were heard.

A 30-year-old Palo Alto woman faces arson charges in connection to the Fawn Fire. Authorities believe she may be linked to other fires in the county and potentially elsewhere in California.

As of Monday morning, the Fawn Fire was 8,559 acres in size and 50% contained. 155 structures were destroyed and 2,340 remain threatened.

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