July 20. 2021 — Redwood Valley is still sorting through the aftermath of the Broiler fire, from the lack of notifications to the power and water it took to fight the fire to rethinking fuel management strategies.
Flow Cannabis Company president Jerom Fawson issued a statement saying the July 7 fire quote “originated on our property, after the blades of a mower, operated by our employee, struck rock, causing a spark.” The company has not responded to requests for further comment.
The lack of notifications during the incident was a serious problem. Chris Boyd, who chaired last week’s meeting of the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council, reported that even though she’s signed up with multiple alert systems, she didn’t hear from any of them about the fire that burned more than 80 acres and destroyed three homes.
Redwood Valley was hit hard this month. Tom Schoenemann, a board member at the Redwood Valley County Water District, reported that the district lost a lot of water on July 7, one unknown quantity to fighting the fire and another to a line that was damaged during work on the infrastructure project. He’s expecting quite a power bill for pumping water from the lake back into the storage facility, too.
Schoenemann doesn’t know yet how much water and power were used during the fire, or if the water district will seek compensation from Flow Cannabis Company. But Adam Gaska, a volunteer firefighter with the Redwood Valley Calpella Fire Department, was outspoken in his call for another swift response. In a letter sent to the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, the
Board of Supervisors, and posted on social media, he called for Amanda Reiman, the company’s Vice President of Community Development, to step down from her seat on the Fire safe Council board. He wrote that “After the incident a few days ago, it is obvious that the purpose and mission of the Fire Safe Council isn't carried through into the culture of the company she works for;" and that FlowKana "seemingly didn't have an employee fire safety plan or training...I can't wrap my head around how they could have been directed to be mowing during the conditions present."
In a brief interview, Joe Zicherman, the President of the Fire Safe Council Board, described Reiman as a solid contributor to the organization and said the board had no interest in having her relinquish her position.
Ruthie King is a contract grazer who put her sheep to work on 46 acres of Flow Cannabis Company land in 2019. She liked what she heard about the company’s commitment to regenerative agriculture, and expanded her flock, expecting the sheep to keep nibbling away at the years’ worth of accumulated fuels. But early last year, she learned that the company planned to use mechanical means instead. She knows what she wants from her former client and other landowners in the neighborhood.
“If they’re going to continue being in this community and continue being landowners, I want to see a renewed commitment, like they originally had, to really support, in a deep, real way, this community...big takeaway that I have is that I’m hoping that other landowners who have fuels on their land...are thinking now about their responsibility to manage that.”