YUBA COUNTY (CBS13) — A small water district inside a Yuba County wildfire evacuation zone was forced to shut off water to some customers in the middle of the firefight.

The North Yuba Water District discovered so many customers left their sprinklers and hoses running when they evacuated that the district’s water supply began running out.

Danny Battershell lives in Brownsville and inside an evacuation zone. He stayed home during the evacuation orders and discovered his water shut off.

“The day after everybody was evacuated, we lost water,” Battershell said. “If it got on fire here, I couldn’t put it out. Had no water–no way to do so.”

North Yuba Water District general manager Jeff Maupin says this was a first in a decade on the job. The district sent a notice to customers to keep their sprinklers and hoses off when they evacuate to avoid reduced water supply and water pressure for the firefighters working to contain the wildfire.

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“People were just sprinkling their homes trying to save their investments,” Maupin said. “We have to look at it bigger scale which is trying to save a community as opposed to individual homes.”

During the two-day period after initial evacuations, with many customers out of their homes, customers hit maximum output, 140% of normal usage.

“If it drains the system then there’s no water in the fire hydrants, now what are you going to do,” Battershell said.

Water woes in the middle of a wildfire fight. In this small community, every drop counts.

The North Yuba Water District serves 800 customers in an area that has seen the Willow Fire and the North Complex Fire get dangerously close.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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