Fire at Edgewood Reservoir Quickly Put Out Thanks to Fast Action by MVFD, Southern Marin and County Fire, Aided by Aggressive Vegetation Clearing Efforts Earlier this Summer

As reported, on Friday, August 17, 2018, the Mill Valley Fire Department responded to a vegetation fire in the area of Edgewood Reservoir. Mill Valley Fire Department personnel by engines from neighboring departments responded quickly and observed a wind-driven vegetation fire burning in the mowed field of the former reservoir.

Mill Valley Fire Department dispatched two engines and a paramedic unit, Marin County Fire sent three engines, and Southern Marin Fire provided three units to assist. In addition, three engines and a Battalion Chief were staged on Miller Avenue and ready to assist until it was determined there were sufficient units present onsite to address the fire threat. An extra Battalion Chief was also called in to assist with media and other Chief Officer coverage. The Reservoir Fire occurred in a Mutual Threat Zone (MTZ), so four additional Marin County engines, a water tender, a dozer, two air tankers, an air attack coordination plane, and a firefighting helicopter were available should the situation have required it. Mill Valley Battalion Chief Mike St. John stated that “this impressive cache of Fire personnel and equipment were, thankfully, able to contain the two-alarm fire to approximately ½ acre with no structures damaged.”

The City would like to sincerely thank the Southern Marin Fire Protection District and Marin County Fire Department for speedy assistance in joining the Mill Valley firefighters in quickly containing and extinguishing the fire. The City cannot express enough gratitude for the quick and tireless work of the Fire Department crews on scene and the Police Department for its support.

In the wake of the devastating 2017 North Bay Fires, the City of Mill Valley has made a top priority the diligent and proactive review and implementation of prevention, preparedness and response policies to better protect Mill Valley. A key element of the City Council’s commitment to fire prevention and preparedness efforts this year was increased funding to the City’s 22 year old Vegetation Management Program – which since its inception - has removed approximately 6,700 tons of flammable vegetation from Mill Valley hillsides.

Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters noted that “The Fire Department typically performs weed abatement in the Edgewood Reservoir area, but this year with the additional funds and heightened prevention focus, we did more aggressive vegetation management and mowed the area prior to the incident. That significant elimination of fuel limited the intensity and speed of spread and permitted the crews to contain it and put the fire out quickly.”

This year, increased funds were allocated to vegetation management by the Mill Valley City Council in the 2018-2020 Budget. Funds for Vegetation Management nearly doubled from $300,000 to $500,000. The funds are from the City’s Municipal Service Tax (MST). The City’s MST generates $1.2 million per year with the balance dedicated to pavement repair and street improvement projects around the community. 

 The Vegetation Management program uses the MST funds to:

  • Remove vegetation along primary and secondary access and circulation roads in the hillside areas of town,
  • Maintain the wide area fuel break on Blithedale Ridge,
  • Inspect and remove vegetation from our network of Steps, Lanes and Paths (a component of our circulation and evacuation system),
  • Support the Chipper Program throughout the community, and
  • Remove hazardous trees from our most fire prone areas.

Mayor Moulton-Peters commented that “this incident was a real and scary lesson of the seriousness of fire in our community.  We were very fortunate in this case.  Our preparation to recognize a threat and take action to reduce vegetation and fuel load at the old reservoir site surely played a role in the successful outcome.  This event is a reminder that we all have a role in fire prevention and preparedness; please follow the City’s example and join many neighborhoods in town to aggressively reduce fire prone vegetation around your property.”  

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