For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 28, 2015
Anniversary of West Marin blaze serves as a reminder about preparedness
Woodacre, CA – As the threat of wildland fire remains prominent in the minds of Northern California residents, the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) and neighboring agencies plan to mark the 20th anniversary of one of the county’s most devastating disasters, the 1995 Vision Fire, and preach a persistent message of preparedness.
On October 2, Marin County Fire will host a 10:30 a.m. ceremony and press conference at a spot in West Marin near where the fire started to share memories and fire prevention tips. Featured will be first-hand accounts from first responders who fought the fire two decades ago. The location is the parking lot for the Bayview Trail on Limantour Road, about 12 miles west of Olema and roughly 1 hour, 15 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Between October 3-16, 1995, the Vision Fire burned 12,354 acres near Mount Vision in the Point Reyes National Seashore, scorching the scenic and sparsely populated land between Tomales Bay and the Drakes Bay along the Pacific Ocean. Winds of up to 45 mph turned the smoldering remains of an illegal campfire on Mount Vision into a firestorm. Ravaging private property, California State Parks land and federal land, the fire destroyed 45 structures in Inverness Park within the first hours of the blaze and forced the evacuation of 422 people, mostly residents in the hills above Inverness, Olema and Point Reyes Station. There were no fatalities or major injuries.
According to the National Park Service, “The Bear Valley area turned into a self-contained city overnight. Park headquarters became the fire incident command post. Fire engines were parked in the meadow behind the visitor center where Morgan horses usually graze. Tents and sleeping bags dotted the surrounding area.”
"It was highly emotional for us," National Parks Service spokesman John Dell 'Osso told the Marin Independent Journal in a story marking the 10th anniversary of the Vision Fire. "We didn't know when or where it would end."
Agencies spent $6.2 million to fight the fire, and the damage estimate was set at $23 million. All told, 71 agencies contributed to the suppression and recovery effort.
MCFD Battalion Chief Mike Giannini said the recent Valley Fire in Lake County, the Butte Fire in the Sierra foothills and the memories from the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire are good reminders of what can happen in Marin.
“In all three, there are very similar fuels and topography,” he said. “The Vision Fire was pushed by strong north and northeasterly winds, and virtually all large fires in Marin history have taken place on days when we’ve had that type of weather condition. We were all amazed back then that we had no fatalities. The next time, we might not be as lucky.”
At the October 2 news conference, MCFD officials will convey critical points that would be most useful for Marin homeowners and residents in the case of a disastrous wildland fire, such as:
Mike GianniniBattalion ChiefMarin County Fire Department
33 Castle Rock Ave.Woodacre, CA 94973(415) 473-2595Email: Mike GianniniMarin County Fire website