California resident Mark Brown is very aware of the dangers climate change poses to the West.
Former Fire Chief Brown responded to the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire, in 2018. In this multi-billion dollar disaster, at least 85 people were killed, 4 of them were killed in a car trying to escape, and 5 people were killed in a desperate run for safety.
Brown is now working hard to ensure that the terror does not repeat itself.
As an executive officer of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Bureau, Brown is helping to reduce the risk of wildfires and plan for survival in the event of a wildfire. It is worth noting that the agency has worked hard to develop evacuation maps and remove flammable vegetation along key routes-all of which are to prevent residents from dying while trying to escape.
“We need to allow our evacuation routes to survive traffic jams so that even [people] Brown, the 52-year-old retired deputy chief of the Marin County Fire Department, said they can stay in the car and they can survive in the car. He said it is safer than having to leave. The car ran away and was caught without protection at all. “
This is part of the transformation of the Golden State, where fatal and destructive fires have occurred repeatedly in the past decade. Cities, counties, and individuals are planning to prevent fires and ensure that people can survive when the fires start. Because with climate change, fires burn faster and hotter. Escape from safety is increasingly becoming the only option.
Daniel Burrant said: “People are aware that today’s wildfires, the rate of burning, the damage and severity are different from the types of wildfires we saw 10-20-30 years ago,” California Forestry and Fire Department (Cal Fire ) Assistant Deputy Director. “People really understand that their lives are at stake. They can’t wait or just use their garden hoses.”
This summer, the emphasis on evacuation may have saved lives.
California is now battling the second largest wildfire in state history-the Dixie Fire-but so far there is no known death toll. Although Dixie has burned more than 500,000 acres of land, destroyed a historic city center, and is still out of control in a rural area about 90 miles northeast of Chico, California.
Officials attributed the planning that began many years ago, the May community meeting on fire preparations, and the willingness of people to leave when the evacuation began.
“Most people, especially in this part of California…remote areas, wooded areas, know what happened in the campfire and  North District [Fire]And many other areas in the past few years,” said Carson Winfield, the incident commander of the Dixie Fire Emergency Operations Center, “so when we pass and ask them to leave…they usually leave. “
State and local emergency officials said they hope the transition is underway because California faces a higher risk of wildfires.
The California Fire Department and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) are urging local authorities to respond more aggressively to extreme fires. In the past five fiscal years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided approximately $62 million in disaster planning and prevention assistance funds, and Cal OES has passed these funds as grants.
To be sure, prevention remains the top priority, and the state has spent billions of dollars in this area. However, more and more people accept that some fires exacerbated by climate change are too ferocious to risk not being evacuated.
“These fires burn at record speeds, with flames sometimes reaching hundreds of feet in length, like a freight train,” Berlant said. “Even our own firefighters, with the best equipment, best training and experience, we face the challenge of fighting against the weather conditions we are experiencing and stopping these fires.
He added: “I think we have seen more people evacuated from areas where it might be difficult to get them out of their homes 10 years ago.”
Deadly campfire inspires action
Several experts said that although state and local authorities have been developing emergency plans for decades, the 2018 campfire in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada has created some boundaries in people’s vision. The fire destroyed the town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento.
Claudine Jaenichen, a consultant who has worked with 24 cities to draw emergency evacuation maps, said the campfire has increased many people’s awareness of where they live and potential escape routes.
Some people say that residents living where Dixie burns—in Butte, Plumas, and Tehama counties—have a particularly strong fear of fire. The area is located about 80 miles northeast of Paradise. Cal OES spokesperson Brian Ferguson said many residents of Pramas County know people in Paradise, go there to buy groceries, or drive by on the way to Chico.
An integrated fire in the north, also in the area, killed 16 people last year.
Cal OES is responsible for overseeing the emergency plans that each county must develop. Since Camp Fire, the state has been emphasizing that counties review and maintain these plans. Ferguson said that identifying the roads used for evacuation “is certainly an important point.”
Winfield warned that so far, the number of deaths from the Dixie fire is a “temporary” figure. He said that although no residents are currently unaccounted for, it is still possible to find the death toll after the fire is extinguished.
The area where Dixie burns is also sparsely populated, which helps keep people away. Quincy, the seat of the Plumas County government, has a population of less than 2,000. The total population of the county is about 19,000.
Winfield said that during the evacuation of the Dixie fire, the Pramas County Sheriff’s deputy “attempted to knock on every door to confirm that we had returned to every resident.”
This is impossible in more populated areas. Therefore, some California cities are integrating a new type of warning system: a European high and low alarm to alert residents. Legislation passed last year allowed it to be used, and it was forbidden.
The state also streamlined its evacuation alert system in 2019. There used to be three levels: evacuation warning, voluntary evacuation and mandatory evacuation. Now there are only two: evacuation warning and evacuation order.
Ferguson of Cal OES wrote in an email: “The nickname’voluntary evacuation’ is often difficult for the public to understand and slows down response time.”
The cities and counties are making plans to help people escape. Jaenichen, a consultant who has worked with 24 cities to draw evacuation maps, said that she emphasized the importance of ensuring that residents are provided with information in multiple formats. For example, the city where she works has created QR codes, and people use their mobile phones to scan these QR codes to obtain information. This helps track how many people visit it.
Residents levy taxes for firefighting work
Jaenichen works in Marin County in the San Francisco area where Brown lives. The county proposed a measure in a vote last year to fund the Malin Wildfire Prevention Agency. Residents agreed to impose a tax of 10 cents on every square foot of building space they own. It is estimated that approximately US$20 million will be generated each year for fire prevention and evacuation in the next ten years.
Approximately 240,000 people live in 17 cities, towns and regions, which are part of the work of the Malin Wildfire Prevention Agency.
Jaenichen also works with Laguna Beach in Orange County, between San Diego and Los Angeles. This coastal city is one of the most devastating fires in American history. In 1993, a fire there destroyed 441 houses. It forced the evacuation of 23,000 people.
Almost all of Laguna Beach is considered a “very high fire risk area” by Cal Fire. Moreover, there are only three ways to get in and out of the beach town.
The Laguna Beach City Council established a Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Subcommittee at the end of 2018-shortly after the campfire broke out-to analyze the risks. Since then, the committee has approved a number of mitigation measures.
These initiatives include reducing more vegetation and expanding the city’s outdoor warning system-installing 21 speakers around the town. The city also spent more than $197,000 on a study that analyzed how long it would take to evacuate all residents. This analysis gives estimates of people going out under various conditions, such as day or night, winter or summer, weekends or workdays.
According to the study, in the best case, with no road hazards or closures or smoke restricting the driver’s view, it would take 4 hours and 20 minutes to evacuate all 23,000 residents of the city. The closing time of major roads may nearly double.
The city’s spokesperson Cassie Walder wrote in an email that the city plans to use the results to “update the evacuation plan, install evacuation route signs, pre-traffic management supplies, and conduct community outreach and education.” .
Near Irvine, officials have made similar plans. Casey George, the city’s open space administrator, said that the city of 273,000 people analyzed the potential spread of wildfires as part of its preparations. Irvine has developed a city-wide evacuation plan.
“We divide every part of the city into zones, and each zone has an average number of residents, vehicles, etc.,” George said.There is an emergency alert sending information to the phone, so residents “click on that link and it will show [evacuation] The route they should take. “
forward from Electronics News With permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.