Past Deployments

This page is currently being updated as of 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, field staff are frequently deployed to disaster areas to set up monitoring equipment and protect and inform any who may be downwind of the event. 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 deployments.
Firefighters try to douse the piles of burning recycling material

Richards Recycling Fire: Sacramento County (Aug 2011)

A 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.
Thick black smoke billows upwards from burning plastic

Fairfield Plastics Fire: Solano County (July 2011)

Macro Plastics has 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.
The Escondido bomb-house burns down rapidly.

Escondido Explosive Stockpile Remediation: San Diego County (Dec 2010)

In mid-November it 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.
Firefighters silhouetted by the ongoing fireball in the background.

San Bruno Pipeline Explosion: San Mateo County (Sept 2010)

A PG&E natural 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.
A firefighter overlooking the Bodfish fire in Kern County

Kern County Fires: Kern County (July 2010)

Two wildfires 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.
Smoke rising in the distance behind the Santa Barbara suburbs

Santa Barbara Fire: Santa Barbara County (Aug 2009)

The Santa Barbara 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.
A plume of smoke rises over Humboldt

Lightning Strike Fires: Humboldt, Mendocino, and Butte Counties (June/Sept 2008)

A particularly dry 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.
Firefighters at the burn line of the Poomacha Fire

Southern California Firestorm: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and Riverside Counties (Oct 2007)

Several fires 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.
A satellite image of the Big Bear fire. The smoke plume can be seen heading Northeast towards Nevada.

Big Bear Fire: Southern California (Sept 2007)

The 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.
smoke gathers over the Tahoe treeline.

Angora Fire: El Dorado County at Lake Tahoe (June 2007)

An illegal 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 advisories.
A plume of smoke can be seen rising up from the train trestles.

Trestle Fire: Sacramento (March 2007)

A 1,300 foot 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.
The haze of smoke obscures vision during the So-Cal wildfires

Southern California Wildfire: San Diego County and Others (Aug 2003)

Natural wildfires 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.
A black plume rising over the Air Gas facility

Air Gas Facility Explosion: Sacramento (July 2003)

Propane and 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.
A smoke plume rising over the Westley Tire Fire

Westley Tire Fire: Stanislaus County (Sept 1999)

Early 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.
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