Cal Fire’s opening this month of the Hood Mountain Fire Center puts fire prevention and suppression crews across the highway from Oakmont.
“Oakmont won’t rest until we are fully prepared,” County Supervisor Susan Gorin told a small crowd of mostly firefighters at the Sept. 8 opening of the fire center off Pythian Road.
“I feel safer today knowing that Cal Fire has additional firefighters and equipment based in the Sonoma Valley to help defend the eastern flanks of the county during wildfire season,” Gorin said in a statement. She lost her home in an earlier wildfire that touched on Oakmont, one of two wildfires that prompted evacuations here in recent years.
It is the first time a Cal Fire hand crew has been based in the county since closure of a conservation camp at Cazadero in 1992.
During a wildfire, a hand crew must build fire lines with chainsaws and hand tools. Outside of emergencies, a hand crew’s main job is vegetation management. Hand crews are normally 14 firefighters and two officers. A long list of fuel projects has already started, said Mike Marcucci, Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake Napa unit chief.
The new camp brings benefits of wildfire suppression and “the critical pre-fire fuels modification work that is needed to address the wildfire risk we face,” Marcucci said.
About 40 people will be based at Hood Mountain, Marcucci said. The center occupies some of a former youth detention facility that has been vacant about eight years. The Los Guillicos group of tiny homes providing shelter to formerly unhoused people is nearby.