Nevada Division of Forestry first responders personally impacted by Wells earthquake

Earthquake damage in Wells, Nev.

Agency plays key role in response and recovery

WELLS, Nev.—Since early yesterday, Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) employees were at the epicenter of the Wells earthquake—as both responders and victims.

Al Case is the division’s fire captain in Wells. His house suffered heavy damage but he quickly secured his home by patching the worst leaks, shutting off the propane and he was one of the first on scene in downtown Wells. Case responded with the Elko County Sheriff’s Department.

Crew Supervisor Jim Hunt’s home suffered a one-inch crack down the middle, panels had fallen off the walls and one of the end walls had shifted a couple of inches. Hunt was also a first responder with the Wells Volunteer Fire Department. Other NDF employees in the area suffered cracks in their walls, broken dishes and other damage.

Earlier today, Governor Jim Gibbons declared a state of emergency in Wells and Elko County.

“The earthquake caused considerable damage in the city of Wells and surrounding areas. Therefore, I have taken appropriate steps to officially declare a State of Emergency for the affected areas and am finalizing details to request a Presidential disaster declaration,” Gibbons said.

Pete Anderson, Nevada’s state forester, complimented NDF’s response and efforts.

“Division of Forestry employees are to be commended for their quick response during this disaster,” he said. “Using the leadership skills, equipment and crews that they normally employ on wildland fires, we will continue to assist with the disaster response and recover efforts.”

During the winter, when NDF crews from the Wells Conservation Camp are snowed out of their regularly scheduled projects, they provide snow removal and wood cutting services to the senior citizens in Wells. After the earthquake, the crew supervisors used their snow removal and wood cutting list to check on the senior citizen’s safety, welfare and related needs.

The Wells Conservation Camp kitchen crew, who cook at fire camps during the summer, served hot meals to emergency responders and displaced residents by 4 p.m. the day of the earthquake.

From NDF’s northern regional office, Region Forester Tom Turk responded as a public information officer, while Fire Management Officer Sam Hicks responded as the operations section chief.

The northern region command staff activated Elko Interagency Dispatch Center’s expanded dispatch. NDF crews in Clover Valley, Montello-Tecoma, Ruby Valley, Deeth and Rynden staffed engines and performed assessments in their communities before responding to Wells. From Elko, the Lee Engine Company Volunteer Fire Department and Elko Fire Department also responded.

Rich Harvey from the division’s state office was in Elko when the earthquake hit. He responded to Wells and assumed command of the earthquake response as a Type II incident commander. Kelli Baratti, also from the state office, responded as a public information officer and team liaison. NDF Fire Captains Joe Fording and Bill Moline responded from the western region as operations staff. Fording relieved Al Case as the safety officer, and Bill Moline is a division supervisor.

Contact Pete Anderson at (775) 684-2500 for more information.

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