Friday Memo, County of Nevada
Fire Information Call Center

Responding to the Lobo and McCourtney Fires 

In the early hours of Monday morning, October 9th, the McCourtney and Lobo fires started in Nevada County. First responders arrived on scene to fight the fire and help people evacuate from their homes. Approximately 8,000 residents in the Rough and Ready, Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, and McCourtney areas were under Evacuation or Evacuation Advisory's, some for over 3 days.

Today, the Lobo Fire was reported at 821 acres and 65% containment, and the McCourtney Fire at 76 acres and 95% containment.

Next Steps:

There have been over 20 residences that have been lost or damaged from Nevada County's recent fires. First, residents affected should get in contact with their insurance agent before removing anything or doing any clean-up on your property. Cleaning up prior to contacting your insurance company could result in a loss of insurance claims.

Nevada County is asking those who have lost or have had their homes damaged from the fires to call our Fire Information Line at (530) 265-1218 in order to gain contact information for all affected residents. There is also a Fire Information Kiosk in the lobby of the Community Development Agency at the Rood Center for residents to find additional information and resources. The County is working with affected residents to provide all possible services.

The County is currently working with the State, Red Cross, and other agencies to set up assistance for property clean-up. The Building Department is also planning to work with those who lost or have damage to their homes in the Lobo and McCourtney fires to expedite permitting services.

Nevada County's Department of Social Services has worked with the State on Emergency CalFresh Replenishment for all residents living in the 95975 and 95946 zip codes. All residents with these zip codes are receiving a supplement to their EBT cards due to the displacement from the Lobo and McCourtney Fires. Public Assistance recipients may qualify for reimbursements for some household items lost. Contact Nevada County's Department of Social Services at (530) 265-1340 or

The Nevada County Assessor, Sue Horne, is offering Property Tax Relief for properties that have suffered more than $10,000 in damage. Visit the Assessor's website and fill out a Calamity Reassessment Claim Form by December 11th, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact the Assessor's Office at (530) 265-9859 or

How to Donate:

Salvation Army is taking donations for the families who have had their homes damaged or lost during the Lobo and McCourtney fires. 100% of the donations made to Salvation Army will go to those impacted by our local fires; Salvation Army does not take an admin fee for disaster donations. Salvation Army is only taking monetary donations at this time. Donate by:

  • Online: visit our local Salvation Army's website and donate to the "Northern California Wildfires." Be sure to write "Nevada County Fires" or "Victims of Lobo and McCourtney Fires" in the "Leave a comment" box to ensure the donation stays local and goes towards those most affected by our recent fires.
  • Mail: Send checks to our local Salvation Army at:

PO Box 1358
Grass Valley, CA 95945

  • In-person: Stop by our local Salvation Army at:

10725 Alta Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945

Thank You:

To all the first responder who helped to keep our community safe, from firefighters across the state to the local police and CHP who jumped in to help our Nevada County Sheriff's Office respond to evacuations.

To all the volunteers who helped to staff our shelters, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Nevada County Veterinary Disaster Relief Team, Twin Cities Church, the First Baptist Church, and to everyone who donated supplies to the shelters.

To the community for supporting each other and your neighbors through the Lobo and McCourtney fires. Nevada County has not experienced a fire with this many homes lost since the 49er Fire in 1988. Nevada County appreciates the community's patience as we work to provide the best possible service to those most affected by losses during the Lobo and McCourtney fires.

Food Safety After a Fire

Food exposed to fire can be compromised by heat of the fire, smoke fumes, chemicals used to fight the fire, and power outage as a result of the fire. Food in cans or jars may appear to be fine, but if they have been close to the heat of a fire, they may not be edible. Heat from a fire can activate food spoilage bacteria. If the heat is severe, the cans or jars can split or rupture, resulting in unsafe food. Toxic fumes, which may be released from burning materials, are one of the most dangerous elements of a fire. The fumes can be hazardous, and they can also contaminate food. Chemicals used to fight fires contain toxic materials that can contaminate food and cookware.

While some of the chemicals may be listed as non-toxic to humans, they can be harmful if swallowed.

  • Throw away any food stored in permeable packaging, such as cardboard or plastic wrap. Toxic fumes can permeate the packaging and contaminate the food.
  • Throw any raw foods stored outside the refrigerator, such as potatoes or fruit, as they could also be contaminated by fumes. Even food stored in the refrigerator or freezer can become contaminated by fumes, as the seals are not necessarily airtight.
  • If food from your refrigerator or freezer has an off-flavor or odor when it is prepared, it should be discarded and not eaten.
  • Discard foods that have been exposed to chemicals, including:  
    • Food stored at room temperature, such as fruit and vegetables
    • Food stored in permeable containers, like cardboard and screw-topped jars and bottles
    • Canned goods and cookware exposed to chemicals can be decontaminated if they have not been subjected to severe heat.

Be sure to wash canned goods and cookware that have been exposed to chemicals with soap and hot water. Then dip them in a bleach solution (1 teaspoon of bleach per quart of water) for 15 minutes, rinse, and let air dry.

The main concern with perishables stored in the refrigerator and freezer is the availability of electrical power. Refrigerated items should be safe, provided that the power is off for no more than about two hours.

If the power has been off for more than two hours:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • Open the refrigerator as little as possible.
  • Throw away any perishable food that has been held at temperatures above 41°F for more than 4 hours.
  • Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • Throw away food in your refrigerator and freezer that looks suspicious, such as the presence of liquid or refrozen meat juices, soft or melted and refrozen ice cream, or unusual odors.
  • Never taste food to determine its safety. Food unfit for human consumption is also unfit for pets. If in doubt, throw it out.

For more information please contact our Environmental Health department at (530) 265-1452.

Property Tax Relief for Owners of Property Damaged or Destroyed in Lobo or McCourtney Fires 

Owners who suffered destruction of more than $10,000 in damage of their Nevada County property in the October 2017 Lobo, McCourtney or Garden fires should contact the Nevada County Assessor's Office  to request a calamity reassessment claim form.  To obtain a claim form, property owners may call (530) 265-1232 or e-mail .  Please include your name, current mailing address, daytime phone number, e-mail address and the address of the destroyed or damaged property.   You may also download a calamity form by visiting the Assessor's webpage and clicking on the Calamity Reassessment and Property Tax Deferral link.

Qualifying owners of properties damaged in the October 2017 fires can also apply to defer the December 11, 2017 first installment payment of their 2017-2018 property tax bill unless that bill is paid though an impound account handled by your mortgage lender .  Property tax deferral can be requested as part of the calamity reassessment claim.  Deferral requests must be submitted no later than December 11, 2017.  If requested, taxes will be deferred until 30 days following the receipt of a corrected bill that reflects the temporary reduction in value caused by the fires.

Please send questions or comments to Nevada County Assessor Sue Horne at or by calling 530-265-1232. 

NCCA and CSLB Warns Consumers About Unlicensed Contractors After Disasters 

Nevada County Contractors' Association (NCCA) and the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning consumers about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors following a disaster, whether it is earthquake, fire, flood or mudslide. Unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors often prey on victims of natural disasters.

It is a felony to contract without a license in a declared disaster area. Consumers can protect themselves by using CSLB's resources to check a contractor's license status and history.

"Although it’s understandable that property owners want to begin rebuilding quickly, it’s important not to rush the process and hire the first contractor who comes along," said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. "Take your time and protect yourself against con artists who will take your money and run or incompetent contractors who will perform shoddy work. Hire only licensed contractors and check their qualifications."

Consumers can verify a contractor's license status and order publications on this website. You can also call CSLB, toll-free: (800) 321-CSLB (2752).

Contractors working on a job, from debris removal to rebuilding, totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, carry a license bond, and pass a criminal background check.

CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:

  • Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license.
  • Verify the contractor's license by checking online.
  • Don't rush into decisions and don't hire the first contractor who comes along.
  • Don't pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less.
  • Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
  • Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates California's 290,000 contractors. In fiscal year 2014-15, CSLB helped recover nearly $68 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

The Nevada County Contractors' Association (NCCA) is a valuable local resource for anyone looking to rebuild. You can contact NCCA at (530) 274-1919 or visit NCCA's website

Well Tips During Fire Emergency

There are a number of things to keep in mind if you have had any fire damage to your well. When it is safe to do so, you can visually check for:

  • Damaged and melted or exposed electrical wiring
  • Damaged and melted PVC casing, liner or pipe
  • Damaged well houses and pressure tanks
  • Debris, such as ash and sediment entering uncovered wells

Exposed electrical wiring to the well poses a significant electrical safety hazard with potential for an electrical short to the metal casing. If the electrical wiring has been damaged by fire, do not handle the wiring or touch the casing. Flag the area around the well casing a warning. If your well has been damaged by fire, contact a local licensed and bonded well constructor or pump installer to determine the extent of the damages and what must be done to either repair or decommission the well. If you think a fire may have damaged your water supply, bring water back with you when you return to your home. Wells must be maintained to prevent health hazards. Take steps to ensure your water is safe to drink after an emergency.

Disinfection of Private Domestic Water Wells:
Disinfection of a well is recommended to eliminate disease causing organisms. A well should be disinfected following a repair, maintenance or replacement of the pump or if the power has been off for an appreciable period of time possible causing the pressure tank to loose pressure and the distribution system to back siphon into the well causing possible contamination.

Disinfection generally involves five (5) steps:1. Remove the threaded inspection plug from the cap on top of the well. Place a funnel in this entry port and pour one (1) to three (3) gallons of domestic 5.25% chlorine bleach into the well. Should you wish to be more precise in this effort, introduce one gallon of bleach per 1000 gallons of water. For more information on how to calculate this, please read Environmental Health's press release.

Health Effects from Home and Building Ash

All persons accessing burned structures should be aware of the hazards associated with those sites. Cleanup efforts may expose you to ash, soot, and fire decomposition products that may cause irritation and other health effects. AVOID direct contact with ash. If you get ash on your skin, in your eyes, or in your mouth, wash it off as soon as you can. Ash from burned structures is generally more hazardous than forest ash. Fire ash contains tiny particles (dust, dirt, soot) that can be deposited on indoor and outdoor surfaces and can be inhaled if the ash becomes airborne. Ash may contain traces of hazardous chemicals such as metals like lead, cadmium, nickel and arsenic; asbestos from older homes or other buildings; perfluorochemicals (from degradation of non-stick cookware, for example); flame retardants; and caustic materials. For these reasons, it is advisable to be cautious and avoid exposure to the ash.

Health Effects of Ash: Fire ash may be irritating to the skin, nose, and throat, and may cause coughing and/or nose bleeds. Fine particles can be inhaled deeply into lungs and may aggravate asthma and make it difficult to breathe. If the ash contains asbestos, nickel, arsenic or cadmium, then exposure is a particular concern because these substances can cause cancer. Because the substances in the ash vary, it is best to be cautious.

Sensitive People: People with asthma or other lung diseases, pregnant women, and the elderly should exercise special caution because they may be more susceptible to health effects from the ash.

Children: Do not allow children to play in ash. Wash and clean all children’s toys before using. Children should not be in the vicinity while cleanup is in progress. Even if you are careful, it is easy to stir up ash that may contain hazardous substances. In addition, the exploratory behavior of children may result in direct contact with contaminated materials.

Pets: Clean ash off house pets and other domesticated animals if they have been in contaminated areas. However, it is best to not allow pets in these areas due to the potential risk to their health and their ability to spread outside of contaminated areas.

Clothing: Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact. Goggles are also recommended. Contact with wet ash may cause chemical burns or irritation on skin. Change your shoes and clothing prior to leaving the site to avoid tracking ash offsite, into your car, or other places.

Masks: When exposure to dust or ash cannot be avoided, use a well-fitted NIOSH-certified air-purifying respirator mask. This type of mask can be purchased from most hardware stores. A mask rated N-95 is much more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from ash. Although smaller sized masks may appear to fit a child’s face, manufacturers do not recommend their use for children. If your child is in an area that warrants wearing a mask, you should remove them from that area to an environment with cleaner air. Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a mask during post-fire cleanup.

For additional information, please go to California Office of Emergency Services main web page or call (530) 265-1218. 

Nevada County Cannabis Conversation Logo

Cannabis Conversation: 8th CAG Meeting Rescheduled for October 24th

Due to the Lobo and McCourtney Fires earlier this week, Tuesday's October 10th Cannabis Regulation Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday, October 24th. The rescheduled CAG meeting will be the eighth time the CAG has met since early June. The meeting will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Foothill Events Center at 400 Idaho Maryland Road in Grass Valley, and will continue discussions of general directions and initial recommendations for the Board on the revised cannabis ordinance. 

Community members are welcome to attend the meetings in person where the CAG hears public comment.  Alternatively, all meetings are available to watch online, both archived and live stream on the Cannabis Conversation website and written comments can be submitted via email to All written comments submitted within 48 hours of each meeting are included in the meeting summary and distributed to the CAG members for review and consideration. Commenters are not required to identify themselves, per the Brown Act, and all published comments are redacted to remove personal identity.  Meeting materials and related documents are available to the public on the Cannabis Conversations website.

The Cannabis Regulation Community Advisory Group (CAG) was formed by the Board of Supervisors to advise the Board on the development of a permanent Cannabis Ordinance for Nevada County.  This inclusive process will take into account the input of all community stakeholders. Nevada County has contracted MIG as a consultant during this process. MIG is providing facilitation services for the Cannabis Regulation Community Advisory Group to ensure a fair and equitable process while advising and drafting a new Cannabis Ordinance.

Please visit the Cannabis Conversation webpage for up-to-date information.

Lake Wildwood

Lake Wildwood Beaches Remain Closed and the No-Swim Advisory is Expanded

In late July of this year, the Nevada County Public Health Department began receiving reports of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC)-caused illnesses. These individual reports quickly evolved into an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that is associated with Lake Wildwood. As previously reported, there have been eighteen cases linked to this outbreak, ten of whom were hospitalized, and four of whom developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is a severe, potentially life-threatening condition with anemia and kidney complications that can last throughout adulthood. HUS occurs in approximately 10% of those infected with E. coli 0157:H7.

In August and early September, Nevada County reported on elevated levels of fecal coliforms in the water of Lake Wildwood. In addition to the testing being done by the Nevada County Environmental Health Department, water and sediment samples were taken and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more advanced testing to determine if a disease-associated STEC was present. CDC’s test results indicate that STEC O157, a potentially deadly pathogen, was identified both in the water at Meadow Park and in the submerged sediment at Commodore Beach. Their testing also showed that the STEC carried genetic markers from geese. In addition, STEC was isolated from a sample of goose scat near Meadow Park.

More recently Nevada County received additional test results from the California Department of Public Health. These results indicate that water samples taken from another part of the lake (near to where the Lake Wildwood Creek feeds into Lake Wildwood) tested positive for STEC 0157, but it appears to be unrelated to the outbreak strain. This means that two strains of a pathogen that can cause serious illness have now been identified in water and sediment samples taken from Lake Wildwood.

The environmental investigation continues to determine the source of contamination. Nevada County continues to work in consultation with state and federal colleagues on the investigation. In the meantime, for the purposes of public health and safety, the five public beaches at Lake Wildwood remain closed and the no-swim advisory is expanded to include any primary contact activities that could lead to the ingestion of lake water, such as water skiing.

For more information about E.coli, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website or visit the CDC’s website.

Superhero Response

Operation "Superhero Response" Was a Huge Success!

On October 3rd, the Nevada County Public Health Department conducted a large full-scale emergency preparedness exercise called OPERATION: A Superhero Response. This exercise was a scenario-based exercise focusing on an outbreak of a highly infectious disease. Even though the exercise had a specific focus, it provided a wide range of emergency management activities that will improve response to a variety of emergency events.

The exercise included many local agencies including Public Health, Environmental Health, the Office of Emergency Services and a variety of County healthcare facilities (both on the Eastern and Western sides of the county). A special thanks to Twin Cities Church and First Baptist Church of Grass Valley for the use of their facilities for parts of this exercise and to the Nevada County Sheriff's Office and the Grass Valley and Truckee Community Emergency Response Teams for each sending a volunteer. Outside agencies that participated included the CA Department of Public Health, Sacramento County Hospital Preparedness Program staff and the Regional Disaster Medical Health Specialist from San Joaquin County.

The exercise elements tested included setting up and operating a warehouse and shipping center for medical supplies, conducting a community-wide drive-thru clinic, running small clinics for special targeted groups, inter-operable communications, medical surge of patients for the healthcare facilities, responder health and safety, and inter-agency collaboration.

We also thank all of the community members who came to the free drive-thru flu clinic, a component of this exercise, where the Public Health Department administrated over 580 flu shots. In addition, over 260 flu shots were given at other facilities during this exercise. The exercise was a great success, our County's response system has been strengthened, and our community members are better protected from illness as flu season approaches.

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