The Keenan Blog

Timely and informative posts written by our experts.


Restoring After the Ravages of Wildfire

December 24, 2021 by Keenan

California communities throughout the state have been devastated by some of the worst wildfires in history. The tragic loss of lives, livelihoods, homes, businesses and public facilities will impact these areas for years to come. We have committed to supporting our customers and their communities that have been affected by these disasters.

As part of the community service activities by our employees and the company, we dedicated our holiday greeting to customers, colleagues and friends to help restore the forested areas destroyed by the fires. Each recipient who clicks the link of our email card provides a tree to be planted in the affected regions of California. In addition to assisting with the immediate needs of the people in the communities, it is our hope that this will help to recover the natural beauty while preventing more damage from erosion, landslides and flooding in the wake of the blazes.

One of our customers, the College of the Siskiyous (COS), has two campuses scarred by the wildfires this past year. Wildfire has been a continuing factor at COS in past years as they are located in a heavily forested, rural area. In addition to suffering losses to the fires, their campus also served as a CalFire incident command center. These are small towns and losses affect the entire community very personally. The college shared some of the impacts of wildfires for their campus community:

  • Wildfire and the impact of evacuations has contributed to a reduction in student enrollment and staffing.
  • Students who live on campus in dorms are displaced with evacuations and at times don’t return.
  • Students living nearby may lose homes to fire and leave the area.
  • Employees of the college have lost homes to the fire and moved out of the area.
  • During an incident, local housing facilities and community services are heavily impacted and due to the small size of the community, many have to travel away from the area to find temporary housing and support. Many times, those displaced are not able to return.
  • Summer Youth Camps are shut down during an incident with participants leaving the area which many times closes the program for the summer.

The College of the Siskiyous has had a strong and cooperative relationship with CalFire, including making their Weed Campus available as an Incident Command Center Base Camp during wildfires. While this relationship is vital to safety and resiliency of these towns, there is a large disruption to the schools’ functioning. When an incident occurs, the need happens extremely quickly. Some of the COS administration is involved with the process which takes them away from school site operational and preparational dynamics and puts strain on them personally as they are not available to deal with their own personal and family concerns. CalFire conducts an inventory of every building location they use. This requires involvement by the Director of Maintenance and Operations.

The College reports they were very impressed with CalFire operations and how well they cleaned, repaired disturbed grounds, and replaced lost or broken items. During June 2021, COS lost ¾ acre of land and trees. Having CalFire onsite provided them with a quick response effort which saved other acreage and possible campus buildings from burning.

Community members, local and state agencies, and the public at large all have something to contribute in making California safer and more resilient. Wildfires are one of the realities in our state and the recent drought conditions increased the severity of the disasters. Pulling together, we can accomplish the hard work of recovery.