The Tubbs fire consumed not just Santa Rosa’s newest fire station atop Fountaingrove but also the former neighborhood station on Parker Hill Road, leaving the surrounding area with reduced coverage from the fire department.
The city now plans to set up a temporary station at the old Parker Hill Road site until a permanent station can be rebuilt in Fountaingrove, said Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa’s assistant fire marshal.
“There’s a critical need to get that level of protection restored,” Lowenthal said.
On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished clearing fire debris from the old station. Next steps include site preparation for a double-wide modular building, which will be delivered sometime next year on loan from the Menlo Park Fire Department, Lowenthal said. The fire engine will sit under a tent.
For now, no firefighters are stationed in the mostly residential area, including Fountaingrove, Montecito Meadow and Hidden Valley. Primary response comes from neighboring stations on Lewis and Calistoga roads.
“There is a longer response time to the facilities and buildings still operating in that area,” said Lowenthal, who knew of no issues arising from extra drive time.
Much of the area was obliterated by the Oct. 8 fire, which burned 1,519 homes in Fountaingrove. Calls for service have declined with the depleted population in the area, which historically hasn’t been one of the city’s busier fire districts — in 2016 there were 864 calls for service. But the people previously served by Station 5 need a station back in the neighborhood, Lowenthal said.
“There are a lot of structures still operating and occupied,” he said.
The city for years had wanted to get a station in Fountaingrove — an area that was teeming with high-end homes and pockets of businesses before the October wildfires. The station, on Newgate Court, was beset with accessibility issues and eventually cost $4 million. When firefighters moved into the new station in August 2015, the city gave up its outdated Parker Hill Road station, leasing the building for $1 per year to Sonoma County Vets Connect, a veterans assistance program helping former service members with a range of issues, including housing, VA medical benefits, job placement and mental health services.
The fire eliminated a place where veterans came for counseling and destroyed years of records, said Dave Phillips, secretary for the nonprofit.
“We moved in January 2015. We just signed a new lease on it. And then it burned down,” Phillips said. “We’re surviving without it. We’re still operating.”
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@rossmannreport.