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Officer James Stowe talks to an individual stopped at the road block in East Quincy. The CHP is working in conjunction with Caltrans to keep the roadways safe. Photo by Debra Moore

CHP commander praises community effort; addresses Highway 70 closure

It takes more than firefighters to battle a wildland fire — it takes the coordinated effort of several entities.

The California Highway Patrol is intrinsic to this effort and it’s been on display during the past week-plus of firefighting locally.

“This is our eighth day,” said Lt. Erik Egide, commander of the Quincy CHP office. “It all began with dealing with the Loyalton (fire) response.”

Egide said his officers have been coming in on their days off and working overtime to help with whatever the Plumas County Sheriff needs — evacuations, neighborhood patrols, closing roadways. As for the latter, Egide commends Caltrans for its role. “I can’t say too much about how important Caltrans is,” Egide said. “They have the signage and the manpower for the closures and they have been a huge assistance in being able to shut the roads down quickly.” Egide said that Caltrans plans ahead and has equipment ready for whenever orders are issued.

That said reopening Highway 70 as soon as possible is a priority. Egide, who is part of the emergency response team that meets daily at 10 a.m., said the subject was discussed at today’s gathering. It will be opened as soon as it is safe to do so, but one advantage to the closure is that it gives firefighters the ability to move about freely through the area. Egide said that he is in constant contact with the Forest Service and Sheriff in making these decisions.

Another priority is getting people back into their homes, but again, that can only occur when it is deemed safe to do so. The focus is shoring up the north side of the fire behind East Quincy before repopulation is allowed. There is also adverse weather predicted that could make the fire more erratic.

While he knows people want to return to their neighborhood, Egide said that he has been impressed with the community response. “I can’t say enough,” he said. “People come up to our officers and ask if they need anything and bring them water. Everyone is banning together.”

 

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