Currently the fires in Southern California have burned more than 355,000 acres and this number continues to grow. (FEMA Photo Library/ Wikimedia Commons)
Wildfire Awareness Week, May 1–7, happened across California reminding residents of the dangers posed by wildfires along with simple an easy steps that should be followed to prepare for and prevent them. Promoted by CAL FIRE and fire departments, it highlights the importance of wildfire prevention in a time when the state has received little to no rain in a severe drought period.
“There may not be a lot of time to figure out who is home, what to take, where or when to go. Take personal responsibility and learn what you can do. Firefighters train hard to prepare for wildfires; residents need to do the same,” said Orange County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Brain Norton.
Several ways the OCFA will be helping residents is by offering daily tips and messages through various social media platforms. They would also like citizens to prepare themselves by using the system “Ready, Set, Go” with ‘ready’ meaning be responsible and ready, ‘set’ meaning packed and updated on local media, and ‘go’ meaning follow your action plan and evacuate when necessary.
“California is now entering it’s fifth year of drought,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of governor’s office of emergency services at state of California at a 2016 Wildfire Awareness Week kickoff event. “Several state agencies and local agencies and even the public have been working very hard in efforts to mitigate the impacts of the last four years of drought.”
The drought currently encompasses over 98 percent of the state of California and nearly 60 percent of the state’s water needs are now met by groundwater, up from 40 percent. Weather conditions such as these can also directly affect the occurrence of wildfires.
“We look forward to supporting this effort as we have for many years,” Major General David S. Baldwin said at the kickoff event. “As again this is our most important task in the national guard, respond to save lives and property here in the homeland.”
A few of the tips mentioned to help prevent wildfires include creating and maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around a home and using ember-resistant building materials to protect the home. Ways to also prevent other people from causing wildfires includes learning about campfire safety and how to and when to burn debris.
“I can’t think of anything more pertinent to Californians right now,” Deputy Regional Forester Jeanne Wade Evans said. “The forest service stands ready to be prepared with over 5,000 firefighters ready to respond to wildfires in this state.”
There are currently four different wildfires that have occurred in California in 2016 including the Hills Fire, Casitas Fire, Gorman Fire and Taglio Fire. All four were 100 percent contained but burned a total of 300 acres combined.
To learn more on wildfire preparedness you can visit www.ocfa.org.