As the Valley Fire burned, CALTRANS crews helped people and small animals to safety

…a case for the need for resilient buried critical infrastructure

From the first day of the devastating fire which swept through south Lake County, Caltrans had crews on the spot. Charlie Fielder, Caltrans’ District 1 Director said that his agency worked with other agencies to help residents escape the path of the deadly Valley Fire.

“We’ve been an active member of the incident command in Lake County,” he explained.

“We set up roadblocks, assisted with evacuations and controlled access to the highways… We assisted people …trapped in there….It is a very emotional scene as you can imagine down there. We all are working together.”

As the crews begin making initial assessments, some of the areas are still burning, says Caltrans Director, Charlie Fielder. “Others are just like a wasteland.” Disaster assessment teams head into these areas making note of what will need to be replaced or repaired.

“A lot of guardrail posts are burned up,” Fielder noted. “Some culverts made from [plastic pipe] melted in the heat.

The article was published in Redheaded Blackbelt – News, Nature and community throughout the Emerald Triangle, 15/09/21.


Photo description: You ever wonder what happens to plastic culvert piping when a wildfire is burning everything around it? Wonder no more. Some culverts along Route 29 and Route 175 liquefied from the heat of the fire; in the first two photos, the plastic piping sits in a puddle at the bottom of the culvert. The earth around the culvert retains its shape. In other cases, the pipes partially melted, impacting drainage and the integrity of the culvert.