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No. Calif. service tech describes challenges from CZU Lightning Complex Fire

By Allison Gordon

On August 16, 2020, a significant California lighting storm added more heat to the West Coast fires of 2020. The CZU Lightning Complex Fires blazed across Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties burning 86,509 acres, damaging 1,015 homes and killing one individual.

John Salvato of Diamond Pool & Spa was one of many service professionals affected by the fires. On August 17, the inferno approached his neighborhood, and Salvato was asked to evacuate his Boulder Creek home. Thankfully, nearly a month later, Salvato safely returned home.

Although Salvato’s house remained intact, many of his clients were devastated by the destruction of their homes. As a result, Salvato lost 10 accounts. The pools that remain require more service than ever before, “the smoke and the ash brought in [foreign] chemicals to the water,” such as nitrates and phosphates, said Salvato. For homes with more damage, “burnt plastic and insulation” landed in the pool, creating new problems for pool techs. “It’s been an experience where I pretty much have to learn as I go,” he said.

David Van Brunt details solutions to the problems the fires bring in his podcast The Pool Guy Podcast Show. “The worst-case scenario is you have to drain the pool,” said Van Brunt. Although the damage caused to the pools may be extensive, there are solutions available. Utilizing phosphate treatments, replacing cartridge filters and practicing a chlorine breakpoint are all strategies that can assist with contamination.

As of September 20, the CZU Lightning Complex Fires were 99% contained. Although the fire’s damage cannot be undone, Salvato and his community look forward to brighter days as the smoke clears and rain approaches.

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