MENDOCINO Co., 9/21/2021 — The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to declare an emergency because of the Hopkins Fire, which started the afternoon of Sept. 12 in Calpella, just outside of Ukiah, and grew to around 257 acres before being fully contained yesterday, Sept. 20. The declaration of an emergency opens up a suite of state and federal relief funds and resources to local governments for the disaster cleanup and recovery.
Travis Killmer, the county’s disaster recovery field operations coordinator, said the county just finished a preliminary damage assessment that found 67 total structures, including 36 single-family residences and 31 accessory structures, sustained damage on 33 different properties. An inspection of 29 of the affected parcels also uncovered 28 destroyed vehicles, seven destroyed trailers and three destroyed boats. “Those numbers will probably go up once we get access to the remaining properties,” Killmer said.
Property owners who experienced damage to their home or structures because of the fire should file an Application for Reassessment of Property Damaged by Misfortune or Calamity. The property needs to have suffered at least $10,000 in damage in order to qualify for a calamity adjustment, the claim form for which needs to be filed within the next 12 months. Fire survivors can get the form online or call 707-234-6800 and request an application be mailed to them. Completed applications should be mailed to: Mendocino County Assessor, 501 Low Gap Rd., Room 1020, Ukiah, CA 95482. The assessor’s office is also open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions and assist with completing the application. After the assessor reviews the information, property owners will be contacted by the county appraiser.
Other damage included structural damage to a private road, Rubicon Court, but that’s not a county road and wouldn’t be eligible for disaster recovery assistance, Killmer said. It would be on the area’s road association or homeowners to repair that road, he said. Calpella Community Water District also lost a booster station that primarily serves the Marina Estate subdivision, but a temporary water pump is in place and the district is working on getting a replacement, which would qualify for state or federal funding. “As far as I know the water is fine,” Killmer said. “It’s safe to drink. It’s just that pumping station that they lost.”
In the meantime, Killmer said the county’s Prevention, Recovery, Resiliency and Mitigation Division is working with local nonprofits to coordinate a one-day assistance center for fire survivors, but a day and location haven’t been picked yet. The division is also working to do special outreach to seniors and Spanish-speaking fire survivors who may not have as ready access to the Internet to find recovery and assistance resources. The county is working with the District Attorney’s Office to distribute victim services funds, which would be available to anyone impacted by the fire. The division is also looking into requesting a watershed assessment for the Russian River tributaries and Lake Mendocino, primary drinking sources for large swathes of the county. “We’re a little concerned about erosion because a lot of the affected properties were right on the water,” Killmer said.
The supervisors also unanimously voted to authorize an administrative permit program for fire survivors that would allow them to use trailer coaches as temporary housing for up to three years, with a sunset date of Sept. 24, 2024 for all of the permits. It’s essentially the same program the supervisors approved for survivors of the Redwood Valley, August Complex and Oak fires. There would still need to be an environmental health review to ensure septic and water availability. The program would amount to a waiver of about $33,000 in permit fees in total.
The county is meeting with the California Office of Emergency Services tomorrow, Sept. 22, to discuss “the magnitude of this disaster” and the impact to the watershed, said Darcie Antle, the county’s assistant CEO. In the past year, the county has gone through five disasters and is still suffering through three: COVID-19, the drought and now the Hopkins Fire. “So we were hoping that, with these compounding disasters, to be able to get state and federal assistance,” Antle said, “but we need the state to advocate on our behalf.”
Anyone who needs more information about going back to their property, rebuilding, or getting general assistance and a list of resources can visit Hopkins Fire | Mendocino County, CA or call the Mendocino Disaster Recover Hotline at 707-234-6303. If you lost your home in the fire, you can also call the American Red Cross for help at 707-262-7117.
Watch the full meeting here: