December 10, 2020
Nevada Irrigation District (NID) was instrumental in putting out a fire near an area used as a primitive campsite above Bowman Reservoir on Tuesday, Dec. 8. At 9:40 a.m., Hydroelectric Plant Operator Gus Gramm was conducting a routine inspection of the District’s Bowman Powerhouse when two hikers knocked on the door and reported a fire in the area.
Gramm immediately responded, by contacting the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and NID hydroelectric headquarters before proceeding to the location of the fire. CAL FIRE coordinated a response with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and NID dispatched several employees working in the District’s upper division to provide support.
Immediately after arriving onsite Gramm began to dig a line around the fire and fell several small trees to stop the spread. Gramm was joined by NID colleagues Jerry Green, Phil Nedved, Ken Hart and Tina Konkle, in addition to a USFS Ranger. They worked together using portable water backpacks combined with snow from shaded areas and shovels to complete a line around the fire and extinguish the smoldering duff.
The cause of the fire is under investigation; however, it was located near a primitive campsite above Bowman Lake below de-energized power lines in the area.
On the way back to headquarters the team encountered a stuck fire truck attempting to access the fire. The NID group was joined by NID Senior Hydroelectric Plant Operator Justin Koster and two firefighters who worked to chip snow and ice to free the truck.
“Incidents like this highlight the flexibility of the Hydro team and the District’s commitment to the environment and local community. We were less than a day removed from a rare December Red Flag Warning in portions of Northern California and local fire resources were struggling to make access. NID’s response was a critical piece of stopping the incident from becoming much worse,” said Hydroelectric Manager Keane Sommers.