Supervisor Nathan Magsig

Supervisor Nathan Magsig | Fresno County

September 6, 2022

Leading up to the Creek Fire, the County of Fresno was concerned with the density and significant number of dead trees in Eastern Fresno county. In 2015, the Rim Fire burned over 150,000 acres near Hume Lake and the sense of urgency to thin the Forest was ever present. By 2019 there were over 25 million dead trees in Fresno County alone.

On the evening of September 4th 2020, a fire was detected outside Camp Sierra and fire resources were dispatched. A few hours later this small fire grew forcing the evacuation of the camp and the community of Big Creek. The morning of September 5th, concerned residents began calling my cell phone wanting to know what was happening with the fire. I was able to provide information using Facebook Live videos so residents and concerned citizens could receive accurate and up to date reports.

Because the fire had started on the Friday leading into Labor Day weekend, many news stations lacked adequate reporters to disseminate information that was “real time”. I decided to use the resources of my office to provide accurate and up to date information to those seeking information on the Creek Fire. The fire was growing so rapidly that it required 6-8 live updates daily.

There was so much misinformation in the first 10 days, that, I was compelled to drive in areas where the fire was burning or it has passed through to show residents which properties had survived and which areas were destroyed by the fire.

On one occasion I received messages that the town of Shaver had been destroyed. I drove through Shaver, live, to show that not only did the town survive, but most of the residential properties did too.

A few days later I was with the Chief Mark Johnson of Cal Fire and were driving down Auberry Road. The fire had ravaged many of the residences just a few hours before our arrival that day. We stopped in front of one home while Facebook live was in progress. The house miraculously survived, however, there were several small fires actively burning around the home. After the fires around the home were extinguished, I immediately received a phone call from the homeowner. Just 2 hours before their call to me, they were told by others that their home was lost in the fire. They were totally surprised to learn that I was at their home and it had survived.

For 3 1/2 months, my office provided regular updates not only on the fire but also on how the community was coming together to help rebuild.

While the Creek Fire is the largest single disaster in the county’s history it also stands as one of the greatest periods of generosity where neighbors, churches, cities, and states provided money, housing, police, firefighters and food to those in need.