The Ely Times obtained an email that was sent to the White Pine County Commission, the White Pine County Clerk’s Office and the BLM, Ely office. This email is a public document that is available through the White Pine County Clerk’s Office.
The email was sent by John Enos, from Gardnerville. In the email, Enos stated that on July 23, 2017 at about 1:30 p.m., he was heading out to Axehandle Road in the Duck Creek Basin, on Success Loop to scout for an upcoming cow Elk tag that he had starting in 8 days.
Enos had gotten out of his truck when he heard two lightning strikes in his general area.
Enos wrote, “I looked to the south and saw smoke rising over the ridge back towards the McGill Spring area.”
Enos said drove as fast as he could to get to the area where the fire was and grabbed his shovel and chainsaw. Enos ran up over the ridge, dropped down a steep slope to find two spots on fire with flames ranging from four to six feet tall.
Enos began to get ahead of the fire and cut sagebrush with his chainsaw to create a line ahead of the spots. He stated in his email of the various methods and efforts he took to extinguish flare ups, which included cutting lines around the spots with his shovel.
Enos said at approximately 2:05 p.m. he observed a plane flying overhead and waved at them, by approximately 2:23 p.m. he heard vehicles approaching from the northeast coming up from the sagebrush.
Three vehicles approached the scene with the first one being a BLM engine number 4462, the second being a Torch/Fire and Security vehicle and the third being the White Pine County Fire Department.
Enos wrote, “The BLM engine pulled up within six feet of me and I waited to talk to them, but no one got out of the vehicle. So, I went ahead and walked the perimeter of the spots again and made my way back to the other two vehicles. No one seemed to be in any hurry to get out of the vehicles. No one approached me or asked me any questions, so I approached them and introduced myself to two of the Torch firefighters.”
Enos said one of the staff told him he did a good job and thanked him. He then introduced himself to the two White Pine firefighters. Enos said “I can’t remember the first one’s name, but when I introduced myself to the second one, he told me his name was ‘Jim Bob.’ Everyone started to laugh as I said, “Hi, Jim Bob, then he told me his name was Tim.” (White Pine County Fire Chief Tim Wooliver). Tim then he asked Enos what was up, so Enos proceeded to tell him the entire story and added that he had been on the helitack crew in Bridgeport, California, back in 1987. Enos told Wooliver that his instincts had just come back to him and he reacted by working to contain the fire.”
Enos noted in his email that Tim said “Do you want me to sign your hero card right then or to wait?” Everyone began laughing and Enos replied with “I just did what I thought was right.”
Enos said that everyone began to work on the two spots so he got out of the way to let them do their job but stood by to observe. While working on one of the spots, Tim’s partner asked Enos since he was still around, if he wanted to hangout with him or something.
In the letter Enos notes that the driver of the BLM truck, who seemed to be in command of the others, never approached him or asked any questions or even acknowledged him. As Enos was writing in his phone details he felt water hit him and heard the comment, “Come on Bridgeport.”
He looked up and observed Wooliver aiming the hose at him, spraying him again saying, “Come on Bridgeport.”
Not knowing what he meant by this, Enos just smiled at him. Wooliver’s partner then asked him, “How the hell is he even getting a signal out here?”
.With the exception of a BLM firefighter named Melanie, and a couple of the other Torch firefighters, Enos stated that he really had gotten the feeling that he wasn’t liked by the majority of the personnel on scene.
Enos picked up his tools and left. When he picked up his chainsaw, the driver of the BLM engine, looking away, finally asked Enos where he was when the fire started.
Enos told him the same story he had told Wooliver and his response was, “Well, you should have let it burn, you kept me from earning my IC4.” Wooliver’s partner said, “This area needs to burn anyway.” Enos said “I was a bit shocked by this and just picked up my stuff and headed up the slope back towards my truck. As I was walking away, someone said “Hey, thanks Bridgeport, hey, thanks Bridgeport!”
Enos stated in his email that he kept walking and laid down on the hillside since he was exhausted and had a lot of smoke in his lungs. He heard several comments such as “Some people light fires just so they can be the hero when they show up and it’s out,” while the one BLM firefighter continued to complain about not getting the IC4 and being called off the fire and it seemed as though every other sentence contained the F word.
Enos said the language and the stories he heard about some naked lady in a shower with a bunch of kids and other stories could make a heck of a sexual harassment case for Melanie, the only female on scene.
The following day, Enos stated he stopped into the BLM office and confirmed that Wooliver is the current Fire Chief for the White Pine County Fire Department. The BLM assured him that they their personnel would be dealt with immediately and thank him for his efforts on the fire.
The BLM was contacted about this incident, and the following statement was released from Tye Petersen, BLM Ely District Fire Management Officer, “the Ely District was made aware of the incident shortly after it occurred and has addressed the issue internally with the BLM individuals involved, as appropriate. We’ve also spoken with Mr. Enos and, as his letter states, thanked him for his assistance and apologized for any misunderstanding. I assure you that the Ely District takes every interaction with the public seriously”.
It is uncertain if the county has responded to Enos. Richard Howe, chairman of the Commission, said, “They’re investigating the email and as far as I know we have tried to reach him twice, the guy that wrote this is not responding, so I don’t know what his deal was, he wasn’t from Ely, he was out there, he may have wrote this email because he was pissed off and then on his way, he’s not a local”.
During the White Pine County Commission’s Fire Commission meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 9, there was an agenda item for possible action and approval for a written plan of action to correct issues that came to light during a Closed Personnel Session of Wooliver held on July 26.
Kathy Ricci, Human Resources director was asked to complete an investigation on the issues that were discussed in the closed personnel session.
Ricci said “I’ve been working with Chief Wooliver since our last personnel session and we are moving forward correcting issues that were brought up. I have half of the investigation started, I still need to speak to a couple of individuals”.
Commissioner Steven Stork recommended that this item be tabled until the investigation is completed, This item was tabled until the next closed personnel session.