Hydrovac Teams Assist in Aftermath of Deadly California Fire

Hydroexcavation companies come together to help utility companies improve the area’s safety as firefighters continue to work to fully contain the blaze

Hydrovac Teams Assist in Aftermath of Deadly California Fire

Smoke from a fire that has ravaged a large portion of Northern California this month envelopes a field where many hydroexcavators from various area contractors sit, ready to get to work.

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While California’s most destructive wildfire in history continues to burn, the areas left in its wake are already dealing with cleanup efforts and vacuum excavation companies throughout the state are chipping in.

In a photo posted to social media last week, at least a dozen hydroexcavators sit in a smoke-filled field near Paradise, California, ready to get to work. Many of them had already been there for most of the week.

“Right now we have about 10 or 12 trucks out here, just depending on the day,” says Marcus Burrup, director of operations for Discovery Hydrovac, based in Modesto, California. 

Crews from Discovery Hydrovac, as well as crews from Badger Daylighting, Lonestar (A Clean Harbors Company) and Nor-Cal Pipeline Services, to name a few, are supporting the gas and electrical utilities throughout the area affected by the fire. They are digging to the gas lines in order to disconnect them from damaged homes. 

“We are also supporting the electrical workers whether they are working with vaults or poles,” Burrup says.

Teamwork is important when it comes to handling disasters such as fires. 

“When it comes to a disaster like this, working as one unit is how it has to happen,” Burrup says. “We all come together and all the hydrovac companies kind of merge into one and the teams talk to one another and help each other out. You’ll be working for one foreman and there will be two different companies there. It’s just whatever it takes; everyone jumps in and does their part.”

Since the fire erupted on Nov. 8 in Butte County, it has destroyed more than 10,500 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago. As of late Sunday, the fire had seared 150,000 acres and was 65 percent contained. According to Cal Fire, the state’s forestry and fire protection agency, the fire probably won’t be fully contained until Nov. 30. 

“Unfortunately the guys and gals have been on a few of these. They know what it’s like. When the fires happen they know the drill,” Burrup says. “They start working on their trucks a little bit harder to get them ready and they pack a bag because they don’t know when they’re going to go home. They just hope there’s a place to sleep and somewhere to wash their clothes.”


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