CEO Messages

Protecting Hospitals During Fire Season

The Fourth of July weekend marks a time of celebration in the lives of Americans and is often spent enjoying time with loved ones. July also brings higher temperatures, which increases the risk of fire. Although the precise causes are yet to be determined, the Hospital Council region experienced multiple fires and public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) during the holiday weekend.  

Three hospitals were impacted by fires: 

  • Oroville Hospital, Butte County: A fire came within 400 yards of the hospital. 
  • Marshall Medical Center, Placer County: A fire started close to the hospital, but winds shifted and moved the fire away from the hospital. 
  • John C. Fremont Hospital, Mariposa County: Areas surrounding the hospital were evacuated, and the hospital had a shelter-in-place order. When the hospital lost power, the backup generator kicked in and PG&E ordered a temporary generator for the hospital while making emergency repairs to the main line. Power was restored within about six hours. 

Our community suffers when fires happen — as we learned in November 2018 when the Camp Fire in Butte County heavily damaged Adventist Health Feather River Hospital and impacted access to primary care in the area. While the hospitals above were not damaged by the fires, many employees from these hospitals and other hospitals were directly affected.  

Thankfully, Hospital Council’s communication protocol and disaster planning protocol with PG&E worked. Hospital Council reached out to the CEOs of 32 hospitals to inform them that they would not be impacted by the PSPS, but the fires may interrupt power at some point and generators would be on standby if the outage ran long. PG&E continues to have hospitals at the top of their priority list, and Hospital Council will continue our efforts to ensure hospitals remain powered during PSPS events. By doing so, we can make sure that all Californians have access to reliable, high-quality health care during a crisis.