Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Red Cross opens shelter for Walker Fire evacuees

From left, Red Cross volunteers Carol Bettencourt and Robin Webster, and Disaster Coordinator Pam Plank, staffed the evacuation shelter through the night. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – With the Walker Fire burning thousands of acres in the Walker Ridge area, the Red Cross on Sunday evening set up a shelter for evacuees.

The shelter could become critical if winds shift and the fire moves west toward Spring Valley.

Kelseyville resident Pam Plank, the Red Cross' Lake County disaster coordinator, got the call at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday that a shelter was needed.

Lake County Sheriff's officials evacuated between 25 and 30 Double Eagle Ranch subdivision residents Sunday evening due to concerns that the fire might reach homes there.

Cal Fire reported that the blaze was estimated to have burned more than 4,000 acres by Sunday night.

By about 10:30 p.m. Sunday the shelter had had inquiries but not yet taken anyone in for the night, according to Plank.

Plank said she had seen many cars loaded up with peoples' belongings headed toward the Clearlake and Middletown areas, so she believed that most were staying with friends and family.

“We'll stay open,” she said.

The shelter could end up being filled if the fire changes directions.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said Sunday he was concerned that conditions might change overnight, with the possibility that winds from the Sacramento Valley could push the Walker Fire toward Spring Valley.

Plank said the Red Cross was prepared for the possibility that a Spring Valley evacuation could take place.

This is the first time Red Cross has used Clearlake Oaks' Station 75 for an emergency shelter, said Plank.

She had 100 cots, blankets and “comfort kits” – small individual bags of toiletries – at the shelter, with another 150 cots in storage in Lakeport.

Plank said that the cots, if they're needed, will be set up in the station's large engine bay, which had been emptied for the purpose.

In addition to the fire station, they've secured the Eastlake Grange just down the road in case more room becomes necessary.

Plank was joined at the station Sunday by several volunteers, including her son, Jeff, Robin Webster of Clearlake Oaks and Carol Bettencourt of Lucerne.

The volunteers were staying overnight at the shelter to keep it open for anyone who might need it, Plank said.

Plank is an experienced disaster coordinator with Red Cross, having worked on the emergency effort in New York after Sept. 11, 2001.

She also worked with the Red Cross during the 1996 Fork Fire, which burned more than 83,000 acres in the Mendocino National Forest and remote areas of the county. That fire forced 75 Spring Valley residents to evacuate, she said.

For information about the shelter call the fire station, 998-3294.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Jeff Plank unpacks a bag of blankets at the shelter Sunday night. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




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