California Wildfire Update

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On October 8, 2017, fires broke out in Sonoma County and several regions throughout the state. On October 9, 2017, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for California. AIA California Council is working closely with chapters in the affected areas for relief efforts, and with the California Office of Emergency Services for licensed architects that have been certified as Safety Assessment Program (SAP) Evaluators.

Cal-fire-aid--ad-sqThrough CalOES, AIACC maintains a database of licensed and certified architects who are trained in safety assessment. There are currently 330 certified SAPs in California. Many were eager and ready for the opportunity to deploy to wherever they were needed when AIACC’s Melissa Barton received the call late last Saturday evening to begin the deployment process. Since October 14, SAP architect members have reported to Napa and Sonoma counties to evaluate structures for the viability of re-entry. By week’s end, a total of 17 AIA SAPs will have completed over 300 detailed structural assessments, and we anticipate that more evaluators will be deployed as containment of the fires progresses.

The most affected area, located East of Santa Rosa includes the following fires: 37, Nuns, Oakmont, Tubbs, and Pocket. As of mid-morning October 20, CalOES reports 107,366 acres or 85% containment, and expected to have complete containment by October 24. An ongoing tally of 5,094 residential, 105 commercial, and 1,293 outbuildings have been destroyed. Also damaged were 291 residential, 25 commercial, and 65 outbuildings. The devastating damage continues to reveal itself, but so does the love which has been demonstrated by many of our members and chapters continual outpour of support and aid.

Redwood Empire chapter President, Paul Berger, AIA was in the field until mid-week. He and his team assessed over 120 structures in Napa. “It was devastating to see the destruction. But amidst the ruble there was so much goodness and commodore… people going out of their way to work together. It was almost serendipitous,” he said.

Nearby chapters are stepping up and assisting AIA Redwood Empire in workload, staffing, and workspace. The chapters have developed and staffed Local Assistance Centers that have interacted with hundreds of residents who have been displaced and need resources and information. While it is too early to rebuild, there is an urgency on homeowners to begin the rebuild process with their insurance companies, and there is a great need for all architects ready and willing to assist. AIARE is working on polling their chapter to understand the degree in which their architectural community was effected and continue providing for their members’ needs. The AIACC is working with AIAEB and other chapters in setting up emergency SAP Evaluator trainings for architects who have an interest in participating in future assessment efforts. This is just a minute, yet important, amount of work that is being done and there is much yet to embark upon. Please join us in supporting all affected chapters, especially AIARE who is going to need the greatest amount of assistance given all homes and lives lost.

The AIACC has set up a donation fund for anyone who would like to make a tax deductible monetary donation. Text CAFIRES, a space, and the amount you want to give to 41444.

Contact Melissa Barton, Government Affairs Program Coordinator at 916-642-1711/



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments. Today, The AIACC is the largest component of the National AIA organization.

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