When wildfires threatened the Coastside, local businesses, residents and staff from local agencies did not hesitate to get to work to help however they could.
Residents organized on social media to provide donations to nonprofits like Puente de la Costa Sur and to local businesses opening their kitchens to evacuees and firefighters. Some set up donation hubs to accept supplies so evacuation centers could remain clear.
Restaurants in Half Moon Bay including The Barn, Sacrilege Brewing and Dad’s Luncheonette all provided free meals to evacuees or first responders. Meanwhile, members of the Half Moon Bay Lions Club were firing up their grill last week to make “a full-on chicken meal,” which was then delivered, individually packaged, by the American Red Cross to evacuees staying in the Comfort Inn, a club member said.
Local businesses like the Loma Mar Store have been stepping in to help as well. Store owners Jeff and Kate Haas initially went into Pescadero when it seemed the fire was getting dangerously close, but were soon keeping the store doors open “in a fashion,” for a steady flow of first responders, Kate Haas said.
“Loma Mar doesn’t even have a stop sign. We’re really the only place here,” she said. “The guys have been gathering here.” Haas referenced first responders, including volunteer firefighters from La Honda and Kings Mountain, as well as CalFire crews and others.
Haas said the store has been operating as a sort of collection point for local businesses to donate food. “Jeff and I are just pouring coffee,” Haas said, “and trying to share this bounty that people keep generously providing to our firefighters.”
She mentioned contributions by a large number of local businesses: Downtown Local, Norm’s Market, Duarte’s Tavern, Mercado y Taqueria de Amigos, Wildflower Farms, Simms Organics, TomKat Ranch, Root Down Farm and more. Anyone who wants to contribute can purchase a gift card to the store, which Haas said can then be credited toward providing food and coffee from the store to first responders. Alice’s Restaurant also accepted donations toward first-responder meals.
“The support has just been amazing. It’s a happy story here right now,” Haas said. But she added, “There’s a cautious happiness. We really thought we were saying goodbye to the store.”
San Mateo County Parks and San Mateo Resource Conservation District staff found themselves already on site, working to rebuild a bridge on Old Haul Road, when the fire broke out and moved toward that same road. Old Haul Road marked the northern boundary of the fire and presented a critical opportunity to hold the line.
Together with CalFire, the County Parks and RCD staff were able to repurpose the construction crew to instead help fight the fire. The crew were all certified CalFire interagency emergency equipment operators and already had the right equipment on site.
Additionally, the crew was experienced in working on fires and “they were more than willing to be flexible and help,” read an email from San Mateo Resource Conservation District Executive Director Kellyx Nelson. “San Mateo County Parks staff has been working tirelessly throughout the fire in their Pescadero parks,” Kellyx wrote.
In another email, Sara Polgar, project manager for the Dark Gulch project, detailed the specific steps crews were taking to help fight the fire. On Aug. 18, Polgar said, the RCD crew worked all day to give CalFire access to the north side of the fire by cutting a road from Old Haul Road to Butano Ridge Fire Road. CalFire requested they evacuate later that day. The crew returned on Thursday with more equipment to help CalFire with further access and vegetation management work.
“I’ve focused on the project site and what’s going on in the area, but as you can imagine this is just one tiny piece of the events of the past week,” Polgar wrote in the email.