On the night of August 19th, the CZU Lightning Complex fires overran the tower site that my wife and I own and operate on Empire Grade. This tower was host to the Alertwildfire.org tower camera, a second fire detection camera accessible to Cal Fire and the Bonny Doon Fire Team, three ham radio repeaters (WB6ECE, W6DXW, and W6WLS), an ADS-B plane tracking receiver, an AIS ship tracking receiver, six of the scanrad.io (formerly firescan.net) receivers, and a wireless ISP (Ridge Wireless).
The tower was originally built in 1971, and withstood numerous storms, at least one lightning strike, and the Loma Prieta earthquake, but the guy anchors were melted in the fire and it had to be dropped to the ground a few days after the fire for safety.
Due to its age, it wasn't feasible to insure the tower itself or the building at the base housing the equipment, which is now a cinder-block shell with no roof... all the electrical wiring and racks and radio equipment and standby generator have burned.
Each of the organizations with equipment on the tower and in the shelter at the base will be raising funds to replace that equipment... but none of that matters unless I can rebuild the tower and shelter for them to use.
Our estimate is that the replacement tower will be on the order of $20,000 and installation will cost about as much. There will be cleanup costs, permit fees, cost to rebuild the roof and electrical system in the shelter, and we've already spent $5000 for the emergency work to drop the damaged tower safely.
I will provide regular updates on the cleanup process, planning/permitting, and construction - assuming we raise enough funds to get that far.
For financial transparency: The radio tower property address is 125 Patrick Road in Bonny Doon, CA - APN 080-041-03 and is owned by Matthew Kaufman (myself) and J. Rebecca Jacobs (my wife). Our home and outbuildings were burned to the ground just a few miles away, and then a few hours later the tower site burned over in the same fire. All funds raised in this fundraiser will be used exclusively to rebuild the radio tower, shelter and shared site infrastructure (generator, racks, shared antennas) and not for any of our other losses. The funds will not be used to replace any of my hobby equipment that was at the site, nor will they be used by any of the ham radio groups for their equipment replacement. If we successfully replace the tower, we will continue to allow select ham radio groups and the Alertwildfire camera network to use the tower at no charge.
- David Brown
- Vince Woodall
- M Gerbic
- Bob Arasmith N0ARY
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