Hornbrook residents without water, ask for help

What You Need To Know

  • Hornbrook residents that didn’t evacuate are currently without water
  • Many complications have led to a shut off to any houses connected to city water
  • Hornbrook Community Service District is working with Montague Fire crew to fix pipes and get water running again

HORNBROOK, Calif. — UPDATE: With evacuations still in effect across much of northern Siskiyou County, residents of Hornbrook that chose to ride out the initial fire are now facing a different crisis –
water shortages.

With things now quiet around downtown Hornbrook as most residents chose to evacuate, those that remain are now without any water but standing strong.

“I’m not ready to leave here. I want to save what I have,” said Marci Buttram.”

Buttram who has been a resident of Hornbrook since 1970 said she and her neighbors defended their homes by spraying their yards and portions just beyond with water they had before everything shut down. That effort ended up working too.

“We all stood out here and just watered this field down,” she said. “As you see we kept the fire at bay here.”

If you look out from her backyard, you can see the line where fires scourged the dry grass, leaving black and ashen bits, and where the water helped prevent other grass from igniting.

However, now, the water that was so vital in defending their homes is gone.

“The loss of power and the high amount of water use in the system is what depleted the water supply,” said Peter Kampa, general manager of Hornbrook Community Service District.

The district which provides water to residents around Hornbrook say that along with firefighters and residents using water to put out the fires on Thursday and Friday, flames also ended up destroying one district reservoir, collapsing the wooden roof and causing a clogging of the drainage system that would pump into people’s homes.

The district did have another reservoir that sustained minor damage but it too was completely drained of it’s water and of the three groundwater wells that pumped into the reservoirs, one was completely destroyed

Then on top of all of that Kampa said, “We lost power then we lost capability to pump water into the system.”

All of these problems stacked on top of each other have made a mess for both residents and the district as they try to work through the damage. Currently, crews along with a troop from Montague Fire Department are attempting to clean up the destroyed reservoir and get things running again but that’s only the beginning.

“We’re gonna have a substantial amount of time that we have to spend flushing the pipes,” said Kampa.

What that means is clearing all of the debris then filling and draining the entire reservoir to ensure any bits of ash and debris are flushed out of the system before they go to residents. If this weren’t done, it could cause clogging in every house’s system creating an even bigger problem.

Kampa says the process of filling and draining could take a full day and on Sunday, crews were still trying to empty the reservoir of debris. With power restored to most of the area, Kampa says they’re trying to work as fast as they can and get the water back to the people.

“It’s not as easy as flipping a switch or turning a different tank,” he said. “Everything is empty so we just got to fill it back up.”

In the meantime, residents like Buttram are still without water and are asking for help. She says that there are probably about two dozen residents still in the city and none want to evacuate. If they do, they’ll be with all of the other residents who aren’t allowed to return until law enforcement deems it safe to return.

Buttram says that a little support for them would be nice though.

“Another need they could have done since we don’t have water is they could bring down a tanker and have it staged in the area in case of something,” she said.

According to Kampa though, that wouldn’t be possible.

“The county did not want to promote people bringing bottled water into a community that was supposed to be evacuated,” he said.

But Buttram feels differently.

“To me, I feel like they’re forcing the ones that stayed out. But we’re too strong, we won’t leave.”

Currently, there is a boil water in effect as water begins to flow back into homes. HCSD asks that people run their faucets a little bit before using the water and should continue to do so until they get clearance by the state to lift the ban.

For more updates on the clean up and when water will be back on, you can find out more at HCSD’s website.

*A previous version did not clarify the groundwater well situation and the second reservoir’s damage.

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