Updated August 2013
The Emergency Response Program exists to aid state and local
agencies in the event of an air-related emergency, and to that end,
are frequently deployed to disaster areas to set up monitoring
equipment and protect and inform any who may be downwind of the
This page documents the many deployments upon which the Emergency
Response Program's field staff have been sent, from the newest down to
the oldest. This page will be
periodically updated as the field staff are sent out on new
Recycling Fire: Sacramento County (Aug 2011)
fire broke out
in a recycling yard on Richards Boulevard in Sacramento in the early
afternoon on August 11th. Firefighters contained the fire without much
trouble, but the fire created a large volume of smoke, resulting in
several of the firefighters requiring treatment for smoke inhalation.
The ARB was brought in to monitor the air quality in the area in the
wake of all the smoke from the fire.
Plastics Fire: Solano County (July 2011)
a manufacturing facility in Fairfield and on July 26th in the early
afternoon, a series of empty storage containers at the facility caught
fire. Several agencies responded to the emergency, including Suisun
Solano County Hazmat, City of Vacaville Hazmat, California Highway
Patrol, the EPA, the local Air District, and the Fairfield Fire
Department. The ARB was contacted to provide laboratory analyses on the
thick black smoke generated by the fire.
Explosive Stockpile Remediation: San Diego County (Dec 2010)
was discovered that a man living in Escondido had been creating and
stockpiling home-made explosives for years. The interior of the house
was extremely hazardous, and lives would have been endangered should
the explosives have been removed manually; instead, it was decided to
burn the entire house down in an accelerated blaze so that all
explosive material would be vaporized and sent into the upper
atmosphere. The ARB was called in to conduct air monitoring around the
house as it burned to ensure that vaporized materials didn’t
contaminate the air at ground level.
Bruno Pipeline Explosion: San Mateo County (Sept 2010)
gas pipeline ruptured suddenly in the early evening of September 9th in
San Bruno. The resulting explosion and fireball ultimately destroyed
almost 40 homes and killed eight people. The fireball was contained
within one day, and Cal-Recycle requested the ARB’s assistance with air
monitoring during the ensuing cleanup. Field staff established a
perimeter of air monitors to sample the air quality and check for the
presence of asbestos in the air, which authorities thought might have
been stirred up by cleanup crews. Monitoring continued through October
12th, when the cleanup was officially completed.
County Fires: Kern County (July 2010)
broke out in quick succession in late July within Kern County. Together
the fires burned over 16,000 acres of land and forced the evacuation of
2,300 people from the area.
Barbara Fire: Santa Barbara County (Aug 2009)
Fire was one of 63 wildfires that raged across California throughout
2009. Over 300,000 acres were burned overall from July to the end of
November. The Santa Barbara Fire burned 90,000 acres and started on
August 8th, lasting until full containment on August 22nd.
Strike Fires: Humboldt, Mendocino, and Butte Counties (June/Sept 2008)
season combined with numerous dry thunderstorms in Northern California
resulted in over 2,000 individual wildfires springing up throughout
several counties within the month of June. Ultimately, over 1,000,000
acres were burned, and 23 people were killed. The fires blazed away
until full containment on August 29th. The ARB became involved on June
13th, focusing on the Humboldt Fire. Field staff set up air monitoring
equipment in many places across Butte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and
Mariposa Counties, and issued health advisories as appropriate over the
course of the fires.
California Firestorm: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and Riverside
Counties (Oct 2007)
began burning in Southern California on October 20th. Hot weather,
serious drought, and strong Santa Ana winds combined to make the fires
spread extremely quickly. These fires resulted in the evacuation of
over 1,000,000 people, 500,000 burned acres, 1,500 destroyed homes, and
nine deaths. The ARB was called in along with a multitude of other
agencies to provide downwind air monitoring of the largest fires. Field
staff worked closely with the San Diego Air Pollution Control District
to gather air quality data and incorporate it into the Air Quality
Index system. The fires raged for weeks, and the last fire was fully
contained on November 9th.
Bear Fire: Southern California (Sept 2007)
Big Bear Fire
was the larger of two wildfires that started on September 14th,
ultimately burning over 16,000 acres across San Bernardino and San
Diego counties. The ARB was contacted for help with modeling the
smoke’s trajectory from the fire, so that smoke hazard warnings could
be given to the right places.
Fire: El Dorado County at Lake Tahoe (June 2007)
campfire in Lake Tahoe on Angora Ridge sparked a massive fire on June
24th. The fire raged for over a week before finally being contained on
July 2th, and by that time 3,100 acres two-hundred and fifty homes were
burned down. Smoke drifted all throughout the basin but was largely
concentrated in the South Lake Tahoe area. Cal-EPA requested the aid of
the ARB on June 25th to conduct air monitoring and evaluate the air
quality of the nearby populated areas. The ARB worked closely with the
El Dorado County Environmental Health Division and the local Air
Quality Management District to monitor the area and provide health
Fire: Sacramento (March 2007)
length of wooden train trestle in Sacramento caught fire on the evening
of March 15th, and the fire raged uncontained for two days. The train
trestle consisted largely of creosote-treated wood ties and beams,
resulting in a large plume of black smoke rising into the air.
Sacramento, Yolo, and Sutter counties all observed minor smoke
inhalation hazards intermittently while the fire burned. The ARB and
OEHHA were called in to conduct community air monitoring and identify
the major potential health impacts from the black smoke.
California Wildfire: San Diego County and Others (Aug 2003)
blazed out of control in late October throughout San Diego County and
its neighbors. Santa Ana winds drove the fires on, ultimately burning
three quarters of a million acres and destroying almost five thousand
homes and other buildings. Dense smoke settled over much of Southern
California, and the fires were not contained until late November.
Numerous local and State agencies participated in monitoring
activities, and the ARB aided these groups primarily with analytical
laboratory support to catch potential airborne toxics.
Gas Facility Explosion: Sacramento (July 2003)
Propylene tanks exploded for unknown reasons at an Airgas facility in
Sacramento on July 18th, resulting in several fires scattered
throughout the facility. Despite the size of the fires and a fear of
additional explosions, firefighters put out the blazes quickly, and the
facility resumed operations within 48 hours.
Tire Fire: Stanislaus County (Sept 1999)
morning lightning strikes sparked a tire fire within the Westley Tire
Facility on September 22nd. The local Stanislaus County Environmental
Health Department made a request to the State Office of Emergency
Services for aid, and the OES contacted the Air Resources Board
emergency staff in turn. ARB staff arrived on-scene to perform ambient
air monitoring to warn nearby populated areas about any smoke
inhalation hazards. Despite a lack of downwind smoke, some minor
adverse health effects were reported by residents in the area. Over
five million tires were involved in the fire, and they continued
burning until the blaze was put out on October 27th.