September 3, 2010

Cowboy Fire required HPWREN to deploy its seventh firefighter Incident Command Post connection

On September 2, 2010 the Cowboy Fire started at approximately 13:10 near the Pacific Crest Trail, between Campo and Potrero and southwest of the community of Lake Morena. With an Incident Command Post being deployed, Cal Fire Emergency Command Center Captain Dan Pagni emailed Hans-Werner Braun on September 3 at about 11:10, with a request for HPWREN communications support. Braun called Jim Hale about picking up the needed equipment in Ramona and called Dan Pagni at 11:22, confirming that HPWREN will respond. Hans-Werner Braun then collected, tested, and configured the equipment for Jim Hale, and met with him for a coordination meeting and equipment pickup. At 12:45 Hans-Werner Braun informed Dan Pagni that Jim Hale has left with the equipment and was on his way to the ICP at the Potrero County Park. Hans-Werner Braun then reconfigured the equipment on Lyons Peak, which includes a pre-deployed radio and antenna on a microwave tower to support ICPs at Potrero. Jim Hale had to deploy a wireless and battery powered relay near the ICP, which became reachable at 15:07, and he finished the second link between the relay and the ICP itself by 15:42. Hence about 4.5 hours after the initial contact by Cal Fire, the link to the ICP was functional. However, such a quick response was only possible because the radio and antenna for a link to a Potrero ICP was already pre-positioned on Lyons Peak's HPWREN backbone site. Otherwise it would have been necessary to also deploy a team to an HPWREN backbone site to install the necessary assets to reach the ICP.

This photo by Jim Hale shows the small battery-powered relay near the Incident Command Post at Potrero County Park. The top antenna is pointing towards the HPWREN backbone site on Lyons Peak, the bottom antenna is for the short distance link to the Cal Fire Comms trailer at the ICP, with the receiving antenna visible on a tripod in the background.

One of the HPWREN network cameras on Lyons Peak captured the Cowboy Fire progression from its beginning. A 20MB F4V video, as well as a 77MB 720P H.264 video of the time lapse animation are available. Those include two long night times.

More ICP photos are at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20100903/.

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