Santa Cruz Summit Fire: Keeping Up with the Breaking News

[Photo from the Santa Cruz Sentinel – see the rest here]

Day two of the Santa Cruz wildfire and things are looking a bit better. We are cautiously optimistic with 20% containment (as of 10:30am). The wind has shifted and is coming off the ocean which means it is cooler, wetter and going a completely different direction from yesterday. Even the smell, which was horrible this morning, is much better with the wind change. Now if the wind will just stay mellow and gentle, maybe the firefighters can get a jump on things.

The real reason I am blogging today is that I want to publicly thank KGO television for the incredible service they provided yesterday – it demonstrated the power of technology and hopefully the future of how we all begin to respond to disasters. Early yesterday morning, KGO interrupted Good Morning America to begin fire coverage. On their website, they took a lot of crap for that move because the fire only affected those in the very south of their market – KGO covers the entire Bay Area which is huge. But they stuck to their guns.

And I heard from my friends that they stayed on the air nearly all day providing invaluable video of where the fire was going, evacuation information, air quality updates, school updates and more. I didn’t know about the TV because I was working but here’s the thing, I was able to watch streaming coverage non-stop during the day. I sat here on conference call after conference call and I was able to watch the video. It was incredible.

According to my friend Lisa, our local radio station, which goes by the name of KPIG – stop laughing – okay, keep laughing, anyway “The Pig” was also Johnny-on-the-spot with regular updates of a “pig” kind helping out with all sorts of community support including animal evacuations. In fact I understand they worked as a broker helping to match those offering housing to large livestock with the needy when the fairgrounds got full. Awesome.

Finally, over on Twitter, which was acknowledged for publishing the first news of the earthquake in China, there wasn’t much traffic. Aided by a great tool,, I was able to watch the tweets coming in about the fire. Notably, folks directly in the line of fire didn’t tweet. I am going to guess that’s because most of them are what we beach folk call “mountain folk” who are known for coveting their ability to stay away from us flatlanders.

Today we aren’t getting the same level of coverage yet the fire is raging on. I am really feeling the loss. I hope more television stations consider running scaled down live broadcasts via the Internet on an on-going basis. Goodness knows their reporters are in the field.

As I have talked with my buddies this morning, I wasn’t the only one watching. Spouses who work “over the hill” in Silicon Valley watched, relatives in other parts of the nation watched and evacuees stuck at a local coffee shop with Internet access watched. Clearly this is a value public service. One we all appreciate so much.