Panaca Fire Chief Kerry Lee said following the bombing of the Cluff home in Panaca July 13, it would be very helpful if a direct access road from the firehouse to Highway 319 could be developed.

Lee said, “It would be a great help in our response time. It would be nice not to have to go through the neighborhood on Edwards Street to Sixth Street and then to Highway 319. The majority of our calls do take us that way. Having to go through the neighborhood is a bit scary for us, because kids want to come out and see the fire trucks.”

Apparently, Governor Brian Sandoval when he visited Panaca said he might be able to do something as well.
The item has been discussed in the past, but it hasn’t gone any further than that.

Commissioner Varlin Higbee, although in favor of the idea, said getting the Nevada Department of Transportation do that “would be like pulling teeth,” to which Lee responded, “With the Governor’s help it might get done. He told me, ‘I happen to have people I can talk to. They work for me.’”

BLM Caliente Field Office manager Chris Carlton said he also has some contacts to talk to about getting an access road put in.

In talking about the bombing itself, Lee again said how pleased and appreciative he was with the good response from other communities “with offers of help and even coming to help. For the situation it was, it was more good than bad.”

Commissioner Paul Donohue suggested at the commission meeting this week it would be good idea to start some sort of plan informing the public to not impede the way of emergency vehicles. He said at the bombing in Panaca, he personally saw a responding emergency vehicle having to wait for drive-by traffic to thin out before it could enter the scene.

Another comment Donohue made was to ask Lee, “Have any of our public safety people ever had any training in regards to downed power lines?”

He said the Lincoln County Power District does have contact with a person who could come to Lincoln County and teach a session on what to lookout for.

Lee said there have been a few incidents where a downed power line is unseen and someone could have stepped on it. Not all downed power lines are deenergized and may not be arching and shooting spark, but are still deadly.

“But in our firefighter safety courses we talk about all utilities and what to be watchful for,” Lee said.

Lincoln County Power District General Manager Dave Luttrell said, when asked by the Record, “We do have a safety officer and do monthly safety training and bring in a safety specialist from Texas, and he would be the one that would do that kind of training. We are obligated under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to do monthly safety training. We could make him available for first responder training if the county wanted.”

Regarding downed power lines, Luttrell reaffirmed the fact that you should never assume a downed power line is turned off until a utility person tells you it has been isolated.

Lee complimented the power district for “loaning their diesel power light plant generator to keep the bomb scene lit all night long until the investigators showed up with their own light plant.”

Lee, serving as both Panaca Fire Chief and Lincoln County Sheriff said he was personally going to write letters of thanks to all the outside agencies who came to Panaca to help following the bombing. Rick Stever said he has also sent out letters of thanks to the governor and the Clark County Emergency Management Department. Commissioners were invited to write to the same agencies as well.

Commissioner Paul Mathews said he received a number of calls from the commission chairs in other parts of the state offering assistance. “There was tremendous support from neighboring counties. I was quite surprised how far outreaching it was.” Lee said he received calls/and or emails from a number of county sheriffs, even over in Utah from Iron and Washington counties.

In speaking about local people who also came to help, Lee said, “It was great people came out asking ‘what can I do?’ but we had to hold them back because we didn’t know what kind of training this or that person might have. We need to be sure to leave plenty of room for emergency vehicles and personnel to get it. Plus, in this case we did not know immediately what the situation was. Nobody knew if another explosive device might be there.”