SodaCanyonRoad | Fire events

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Fire events
Daniel Mufson | Jul 12, 2023 on: Fire Issues


Atlas Peak Road 10/8/17


[Email below sent to District 4 Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza on 7/9/23. A Zoning Administrator Hearing will be held on 7/13/23 to review and possibly approve an application for a temporary event license for the Blue Note Jazz Festival (up to 12000 people/day) at the Silverado Country Club.]



Alfredo,

All of us who live on Atlas Peak Road (APR) or Soda Canyon Road well remember the horror of October 8, 2017-The Atlas Fire. It was a hot, dry night with lots of wind. And then about 10 PM all hell broke loose as one by one, and with phone calls from neighbors, we realized the need to evaluate our homes.

Not all were lucky. In particular we will never forget the couple on Westgate Drive who could not move fast enough to be saved. The real tragedy was that there were two fire trucks parked just around the corner at Old Soda Springs sitting in the dark and smoke “awaiting orders.” They had arrived in position without alerting residents with a siren or horn.

The attached video https://youtu.be/ElHjSOC2y6o shows the situation on Atlas Peak Road about the time we evacuated. Note the embers all over the road and the terrific wind blowing at the William Hill Winery and the parked car engulfed in flames. This area is adjacent to where parking is proposed for the Blue Note Jazz. There was no evacuation plan for residents and we all scrambled our way to safety. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter as downed trees blocked the roads. I hope that there is an evacuation plan currently in place. But if so, I’ve never seen it. I hope that the planners and Zoning Administrator-and you-are going to take the seriousness of a catastrophic fire in your deliberations about this permit.

This history is relevant to the determination as to whether there ought to be a series of summer concerts at Silverado with up to 12,000 attendees each. I have reviewed the permit documents filed by the sponsors, who operate from downtown New York City, but do no see where the County of Napa has determined/approved the safety plan for residents and attendees if another catastrophic fire event in this Fire Hazard Safety Zone were to occur during a concert. Presumably the disaster planners : Napa County Fire Department; the California State Fire Marshall; and the Napa County Executive Office-Risk Manager have been alerted to the filing of this permit but I do not see where they have made the determination that the plan is acceptable.

Who has the responsibility, and authority, to cancel these events during a Red Flag conditions?

I was encouraged to attend the Public Hearing on Thursday to solicit the opinions of the sponsors. Why do I need to do that? I thought the County Government had that responsibility. Where is the adult in the room that will make the hard decisions on behalf of Napa’s citizens?

Why is the event being advertised and tickets sold when the permit has not yet been issued? Is it already a done deal?

What are the security preparations for the advertised “after parties” that are to run from 11PM-2AM? Are there decibel limits?

I find fault with the proposed size of these events which in turn requires numerous car parking facilities to be set up. Several of these parking lots are planned on Atlas Peak Road which is exactly where fleeing residents would drive if necessary to evacuate. As can be seen in the video above those parking fields were engulfed in flames early in the Atlas Fire. What do those visitors do when they are running in fire and smoke and can’t access their cars? Does it make sense to have thousands of visitor cars trying to enter narrow APR or Hardman (after a day of enjoying adult beverages)?

I recommend:

  • The size of the event be reduced so that no parking lots are required on Atlas Peak Road;
  • That CalFire sign off on the permit and evacuation plans; the plans to include rules to allow emergency vehicles in and cars out;
  • That the Sheriff and CHP have sufficient force to direct traffic out of the area, and emergency vehicles into the area, including at APR-Westgate, APR-Hillside, Hardman-Silverado Trail...


Daniel and Naoko Mufson