Volume X Number 27-- A Publication of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association™ & CSA #21-- June 2001
—Bob Buckles and Jerry Scharton, Committee for Fire Prevention
Once again fire season is upon us. Make sure you have your state and federal mandated 30 foot clearance around your house, out buildings and improvements. A buildup of needles and other forest litter can cause a rapid spread of wildfire. Check your chimney spark arrester and remove any leaves and pine needles on your roof. Fire prevention begins with us— be fire safe!
—Brian Curtis

We’ve had a busy Spring in Cascadel, with several community projects completed. Our roads, in particular, have received a lot of attention. First, we received a grant to brush the road sides. A company was hired to prune the larger trees and to clear and chip the brush within the road right of way. No cutting was done on properties where the owner did not want this done, or in front of homes that did not need it.

This project will make our community more fire safe and defensible. Small trees which were big enough for firewood were cut into short lengths and left beside the road. This material belongs to the owner of the property where it was cut. Any wood not removed by the owner by July 15th will be taken to the Clubhouse and used for firewood there. The reason is that it will have dried out and become a fire hazard.

The dirt portion of Cascadel Road, between Paul Vining’s driveway and Whiskey Creek was graded and drainage improved. This will allow large trucks to access the community East of Whiskey Creek without crossing the bridge which has a load limit on it. Also, if Cascadel Drive should become blocked for any reason, it will allow an alternative way in and out of Cascadel. Please consider Cascadel Road a secondary road to be used only when necessary. The problem of water seeping under Cascadel Drive North near the Memorial Garden was solved by installing a French drain under the ditch between the Garden and the road. The road has dried up and a future, perhaps more expensive, road repair has been avoided. A section of culvert at the end Cascadel Drive was also repaired and the erosion problem there cured.

The Clubhouse grounds have also been improved. Soon after the “Storm of ‘01 was over, all of the large oak trees in front of the Clubhouse got a haircut. All of the dead limbs and mistletoe were removed.
Madera County Septic System Regulations
-Marie Iden
Cascadel Woods was created many years ago when Madera County’s sewage disposal regulations were much different than they are now. Today Madera County requires a minimum of 2.5 acres for onsite sewage disposal in new subdivisions.

Does this mean if your lot is less than 2.5 acres you cannot build a home on it? Not necessarily; however there are strict setback and soil percolation requirements that must be met in order to build a home and install a septic system on the same lot. This is particularly important here in Cascadel where our land is steep and the runoff drains into Whiskey Creek. Does your vacant property meet these minimum regulations? If not, what can be done?

If you already live in a home here, what happens if your septic system fails and you must install a new one? Will the new regulations apply if you have to install new leach lines? What if there isn’t room on your property for a new set of leach lines?

Jill Nishi, Director of Madea County Environmental Health has agreed to join us on Saturday, June 23rd at 3:00 P.M. to talk about these and other concerns that effect everyone who owns property up here. Jill is also on the State Committee that is putting together new septic system regulations that will apply to all counties by California state law in 2004. This is our opportunity to find out what this new law will mean to all of us, whether home or lot owners as well as a chance to give her our input on how the proposed regulations will affect the people who live in Cascadel.

She will also provide us with advice on ways to avert septic system failures by the proper maintenance and care of our existing systems. It’s not an issue anyone likes to think about, but we will find out from Jill what steps to take to avoid thousands of dollars in costly repairs.

Plan on joining your neighbors for a full day of Cascadel Woods’ information and recreation on Saturday, June 23rd. Cascadel Woods Water Company’s Annual Meeting will start at 1PM. After a break Jill Nishi will bring you up to date on current Madera County septic regulations. Then at 5:00 our annual barbecue will take place with tri-tips and chicken provided for you by the Cascadel Woods Property Owners.
November 4, 1999 Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association
RE: Advertised Escape Route”
Dear CWPOA Board of Directors:

I was recently provided a copy of your news publication (Volume IX, Number 24), which contrary to recommendations of your Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, still described the road at the end of Cascadel Drive South as an Escape Route’. The identification of this logging road as an escape route causes me great concern, as well it should your Board, at the thought of someone attempting to use it as such.

After careful review of the Cascadel Woods subdivision, it was determined that in a fire situation the only true way to provide safety to the residents, would be through shelter in place. In a meeting with representative of your Board it was explained that, due to the topography leading into your subdivision your primary access road was not considered safe, dependent on fire intensity, location, and spread conditions. It was further explained that, the secondary road that had been identified would not be safe under any condition, due to its location and condition.

The fire service has identified that canyons, or chutes, are major contributing factors in wildland firefighting fatalities. I would not want to see one of your residents add to these statistics, and would recommend that you widely advertise NOT to use the road at the end of Cascadel Drive South as an escape route.

In sharing your concern for safety of the residents the Fire Department has offered to work with your Association in the development of shelter-in-place, this offer still exists. You may contact me at (559) 675-7799 and I will arrange a meeting between your Association and your local Battalion Chief or you may contact him directly. Your local Battalion Chief is Chuck Heinback and he may be contacted Thursday through Saturday at (559) 683-4823. Shelter in place is the only reasonable approach in providing true safety during a fire situation for the residents of Cascadel Woods.

Signature by Candace Gregory, Chief, Madera County Fire Department

—Greg Sheets
The Cascadel Newsletter team is retracting the previous statement made in error about the escape use of the back road through the Taylor property in the event of a fire. The previous letter from CDF explains why this route would not be advisable. We would like to make it clear that the CWPOA Board of directors never approved the statement made in the previous newsletter. It was printed by mistake and this item somehow missed the edit review by a board member.


The burn pile is now closed. Please do not add any more to the pile until it is opened again in the fall.

Thank you for a super donation! Richard and Lila Johnson, who are part time residents of Cascadel, have purchased and donated to Cascadel Woods a sand spreader for sanding our often icy roads. The unit slides into the bed of the snowplow truck and can hold about 2/3 yard of sand. It was put to use almost immediately after it was received and installed, and will most certainly be used frequently in the coming winters. For those of us who have ever slipped on the icy spots, this is a welcomed piece of safety equipment.

Please warn your guests to be extra alert for children on bicycles, skateboards, or rollerblades during the summer vacation. Motorists need be especially watchful also.

Condolences to the Pucci family in the fire loss of their home. (Note: Article reprint from Sierra Star newspaper appears elsewhere in this newsletter.)


Welcome to our community:

Catherine Campbell and Thomas Quinn have purchased the former Hawkins home on Cascadel Dr. N..

Joan Laisne has purchased a lot on Cascadel Dr. N..

Carlene and John Grelecki are building a log home on Cascadel Dr. North.

Melanie Taylor and Robert Hawkins have purchased the former Segura home on Cascadel Dr.

Kristen Lile has purchased the former Goodman home on Vista Drive.

Get Well Wishes to Al Lichti and Voleney Dunavan.


Historical Cabin Burns in Cascadel Woods

CATHIE CAMPBELL (Reprinted in full by permission of the Sierra Star, May 9, 2001)

NORTH FORK -- An irreplaceable piece of history went up in raging flames during the very early hours of last Thursday morning.

An historical cabin, believed to have been built in 1870, and originally owned by the Peckinpah family was reduced to charred rubble. An adjoining structure, once used as a stable, but converted into a tool/shed/workshop, also burned, rendering the equipment inside into twisted scrap metal.

The cabin had been situated very close to Cascadel Creek. In the aftermath of the blaze, birds continued to chirp and the creek gurgled peacefully along as if nothing had happened, lending a stark and eerie contrast to the scene.

A neighbor noticed the fire and reported it at 12:36 a.m., and soon after other neighbors rushed to offer assistance, as well as four Madera County Fire Department engines, one water tanker and 40 firefighters. Also called was a California Youth Authority handcrew from Mt. Bullion. The fire was contained by 1:28 a.m., and under control by 6:32 a.m. Estimated damage to the structures was determined to be $48,000.

The cabin was unoccupied at the time, as the current owners, the Pucci family, reside elsewhere and used the cabin only occasionally. The rustic structure had been built with “quarter-rounds,” complete with bark still attached, made from logs processed at the mill in North Fork. It had no foundation, at least by modern standards, and was held up by posts and rocks.

Bob Buckles, retired California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection captain, lives just across the creek from the old homestead, and went into immediate action when he noticed the fire, checking for areas where drifting embers threatened houses and vegetation. He used a garden hose to extinguish the embers that had landed on a porch, and reported that luckily, grass fires went out on their own, because of natural moisture. "In another two weeks, it would've done a heck of a job on the whole subdivision," says Mr. Buckles.

Pete Curtis and Leahman Westrick, also Cascadel residents, worked diligently to put out burning embers that had, because of the high winds, landed on the roof of a neighboring house. Ann Kennedy, who lives in that house, reported that the wind had blown many burning pieces of the cabin toward her residence. "There were hand-hewn sugar pine shakes all over the property. There's a path of embers for at least a quarter-mile," she says, giving testimony to the extremely dangerous conditions that morning.

Another resident, Brian Curtis, was first on the scene, and helped save a dome-shaped house next door to the inferno. Garden hoses provided protection, with the added plus of the very adequate water system in the subdivision. It is capable of delivering 1000 gallons per minute for up to two hours. The water system also boasts a spring-fed supply of 60 gallons per minute, plus a 200,000 gallon storage tank.

Several very large ponderosa pines were severely charred at the cabin site, and it was doubtful that the majestic trees would survive. Once-magnificent manzanita trees had been reduced to split, blackened and jagged debris. A small orchard of Golden Delicious and Arkansas Black apples, although partly scorched, was the only historical remnant that looked as if it could be salvaged.

The property, estimated to have been part of approximately 360 acres at one time, dates back to homestead land from the public domain reserve. It had seen days as a honeymoon cabin, a cow camp, and a dude ranch, with many tent cabins. As a dude ranch, it had been so popular it even had a busy restaurant on the premises.

As anyone who has suffered the devastation of fire already knows, some things can't be measured in terms of financial loss alone. The history and heritage that were part of the old cabin by the creek are two of those things.