The FIREupdate.com Story

The "old fire" started on Saturday, October 25, 2003 and almost immediately evacuation orders were given to the residents of the San Bernardino Mountains.  Amazingly the whole mountain was evacuated with not one traffic accident.  The evacuees went to family and friends homes across southern California and also hotels, motels and evacuation centers surrounding the mountain. 

While my mother evacuated down to my house in Riverside, My father "Ranger Al" didn't evacuate.  He decided to stay on the mountain to keep a watch on things.  His family has been in the San Bernardino mountains since the early 1940's and have survived their house being burned down in the past.  He served 10 years in the Forest Service in the San Bernardino Mountains and 30-years for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. 

As soon as word got out that Ranger Al stayed on the mountain, lot's of family friends started calling him wanting to know the status of the fire.  Ranger Al found himself glued to his phone repeating himself over and over to every caller.  On Monday, October 27, after trying to call my dad for an hour and getting nothing but a busy signal, I came up with a plan.  To save my dad from repeating himself over and over, he could just tell me, I would post it on a website, and then when others asked him, he could tell them to check the website for the information.  www.fireupdate.com

So, that night I made a little website that had the latest fire information on it.  We launched the site Tuesday morning and started telling our friends.  Every so often, my dad would call me with the latest information and I would update the site.  What happened then was scary.

Each person we told, told their friends and those friends told their friends.  Basically, within 36 hours of launching the site, we had our first million server hits.  Within 48 hours, we had radio stations, newspapers and television stations contacting us for the latest news. 

I started getting a few e-mails asking about individual homes and their status.  As we would answer them, word got out that we provided such a service and pretty soon, I was receiving thousands of emails asking for confirmation that their home was ok.  We provided digital pictures of many homes and unfortunately also had to provide pictures of burned homes.  It was extremely hard to have to tell someone by telephone that their home had burned down.

For the week following the beginning of the fire, we spent 18-20 hours a day working on informing the evacuees about the status of the fire.  Why were we so popular?  The other forms of media aimed their reports to a general audience.  They were reporting to people who lived far from the fire and thus didn't need to know any details.  Our information was aimed at those who were directly effected by the fire.  Our audience was the tens of thousands of people who were evacuated from their homes.

On November 4, 2003 after most of the evacuation orders had been lifted, we changed our focus of the site.  We moved from www.fireupdate.com to www.firerecovery.com.  We felt that we now needed to focus on the Recovery effort.  Since that time, we have helped organize and sponsor many events to help raise money for the victim's and other recovery efforts.  We will continue to be here to provide news and information for this purpose.

I'd like to thank all the many people who helped us keep the website going.  Your many kind words helped to keep us working into the wee hours of the night.

In October 2007, wildfires again broke out all over Southern California.  The site was resurrected at that time when over a half of million residents of California were evacuated from their homes. 



Ranger Al

Ranger Al was the lead reporter for FIREupdate.com website during the fires. 

When the mountain had an immediate evacuation order, Ranger Al stayed behind to keep everyone updated.  While the whole mountain was without electricity Ranger Al watched the Network News and used his phone and internet connection powered by generators.  He spent each day wandering the mountain keeping an eye on friends homes and reporting to FIREupdate.com on the status of the fires and damage that was done.  Ranger Al was sent on special assignments all over the mountains to check if peoples homes were still standing. 

If you have a question about a what Ranger Al does now, you can browse these pages.  If you still need help you can email us. 

Contact us at dacy@fireupdate.com















All information put on this site is gathered for the purpose of helping those affected by the fires find information.
 Information is gathered by word of mouth, and from other media sources.