Students get taste of Rim Fire

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Nearly two dozen Sonora High School students saw firsthand what it takes to manage a massive wildfire.

The students, part of the school's wildland firefighting program, on Aug. 29 took an all-day field trip to the Rim Fire incident command base camp off Cherry Lake Road.

The wildland firefighting program, in its third year, is an elective course for juniors and seniors that prepares students for Columbia College's Fire Technology Program and careers in the industry.

Incident management is part of the program curriculum.

The students toured the firefighters' temporary dining and sleeping facilities, saw apparatuses and other resources used to fight the blaze, and observed interactions between agencies from across the country.

"I thought it was amazing how many different agencies came together," said junior Josiah Lopez, who attended the field trip.

Allen Johnson, a program instructor and U.S. Forest Service retiree, arranged to bring the students to the heart of what's now the third largest wildfire in state history.

Johnson worried he would have to cancel the field trip when the high school, along with all other public schools in Tuolumne County, closed during the last week of August primarily due to excessive smoke. However, 22 of the 26 students were still on board, he said.

"It's a privilege; it doesn't happen very often," Sonora High senior Doria Curry said of visiting the base camp of a prominent fire.

At the time of the field trip, the roads leading to the base camp were closed to the public.

Johnson and fellow program instructor Craig Peterson showed the students and Sonora High administrators around the camp, explaining the different components.

"Basically, the fire camp's a city," Peterson said. "They got to see how the components come together. I think they came out of there having learned an awful lot."

The students also stopped at the Rim of the World overlook, where they discussed the fire's behavior and the dangers associated with firefighting.

"It was just a very eye-opening experience," Curry said.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Wednesday October 26, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Paying the price


Chris Lusardi, of Sonora, is one of thousands of Tuolumne County residents ... more

New oak disease spreads from coast to foothills


A deadly fungus killing oak trees along the coasts of central and ... more

Columbia Elementary board ousts superintendent


Five days after receiving a 2 percent raise, Columbia Union School District ... more

Mudslide knocks out a portion of TUD’s ditch system


The Columbia ditch will be closed until Saturday, following a mudslide that ... more

Battle for cannabis regulation in Calaveras wages on


Strong opinions and loud accusations have made the battle over cannabis cultivation ... more