UC Davis Continues Fire Relief Efforts

University and Employees Also Feeling Impacts

Animal rescue in fire zone
Claudia Sonder, foreground, of UC Davis’ Center for Equine Health, leads a miniature horse to safety, while employees of the Napa Valley Equine Hospital escort a miniature donkey, in the Napa County fire zone Oct. 11.

UC Davis aid efforts continue in the Northern California fire emergency, while the university and individual employees from the coast to the main campus are also being impacted by this crisis.


UC President Janet Napolitano issued the following message today (Oct. 12):

Many of us in the University of California community have been directly affected by the deadly wildfires that are ravaging wide swaths of Northern California. Several students, employees and their loved ones have been evacuated for their safety and many of our neighbors and friends have lost their homes. Thousands of us are breathing highly polluted air. This perilous situation will likely be with us for a while, and overall recovery may well be slow. The university stands ready to help all community members needing assistance, including through its medical facilities and campus resources such as employee assistance programs and counseling services.

For those of you wondering how you might help, the following organizations are accepting financial donations to assist those affected by the fires:

“Our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of the people and animals throughout the region is steadfast in these difficult days,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in a statement posted Wednesday (Oct. 11). “We are here to support you.”

That goes for employees, too. Human Resources posted “Employee Leave Guidance and Support During Wildfire” on Wednesday (Oct. 11), and sent the same information via email to supervisors today.

See below for Support and Resources for faculty, staff and students.

The campus is well out of harm’s way from fire, and remains open. Smoke is drifting in, however, pushing the air quality index into the “moderate” and “unhealthy” ranges. More information is available here.

The university’s Oakville Station, a 40-acre research vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley, has been evacuated, and some equipment has been moved elsewhere, but has escaped damage so far.

Within the UC Natural Reserve System, staff has evacuated Quail Ridge Reserve, in the vicinity of Lake Berryessa, where the Atlas fire is threatening; and the steward of the McLaughlin Natural Reserve took refuge on-site after being evacuated from his home in the Clear Lake area. UC Davis manages these reserves and three others.

There are no flames threatening the Bodega Marine Laboratory, but most of the lab’s 100 employees live inland, in or near the fire zone, mostly in the Santa Rosa area. “To my knowledge, we have about a half dozen people either in the evacuation area or very nearby,” said Professor Tessa Hill, who does research out of the lab.

“There are many more of us that are impacted some way or another … experiencing school closures, road closures, etc.” That said, Hill added, the lab is fully open and functional. She added that the lab has opened its housing to staff — and three or four of them are staying on-site. The lab is also accommodating affiliated workers (not UC Davis employees) who have lost their homes. 

On the front lines

Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht provided the following updates on campus personnel assigned to the Northern California fires:

  • Five firefighters are on a strike team working 24-hour shifts on the southern flank of the Tubbs fire, near Jameson Canyon. Four members of the crew — Dave Stiles (captain), Kyle Dubs (engineer), and Jon Poganski and Gerrit Dykzeul (firefighters) — are aboard the campus brushfire truck, while Capt. Steve Dunn is the strike team leader.
  • Battalion Chief Nate Hartinger is assigned to 24-hour structure defense on the Wind complex fire in Butte County. He is a strike team leader trainee with the state Office of Emergency Services.

See yesterday’s Dateline story, with information on patients being treated at UC Davis Health.

Veterinary aid

The School of Veterinary Medicine outlined today’s activities:

  • Equine Field Service sent one resident veterinarian and two students to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
  • Veterinary Emergency Response Team, or VERT, sent one faculty veterinarian and three students to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
  • Livestock Herd Health (Field) Service sent two faculty veterinarians to the Solano County Fairgrounds.
  • Claudia Sonder of the Center for Equine Health is on search-and-rescue duty in the Napa area.

Stay up-to-date with the School of Veterinary Medicine’s response to the wildfires.

Capital Public Radio: “Having Trouble Breathing? So Are Your Animals,” with Professor John Madigan, VERT director

Good Day (CW 31): “Local Groups Respond to Fire,” live from UC Davis

Support and Resources

Faculty and staff: See this Human Resources post for information on taking leave during the crisis, and to learn of the support available to you through the Academic and Staff Assistance Program.


Vice Chancellor Adela de la Torre sent a message to students: “In addition to expressing my sincere hope that you and your loved ones are safe, I want to remind you about the many support services our campus offers.”

“Whether you need someone to talk to or referrals to additional support services, please don’t hesitate to reach out,” de la Torre wrote.

A transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College has organized a ride-share program for students who may need transportation back home to Sonoma County. “My family and many of my friends have been evacuated and/or lost their homes during this time,” said Quinlan Kezer, who has started a Facebook page called “UC Davis- Santa Rosa Fire Ride Share.”

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Media Resources

Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu

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