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When to evacuate a California wildfire? Cal Fire chief shares advice

The worst time to plan for an emergency situation like a fast-moving wildfire is when that fire is headed right for your home. Fire officials urge everyone to make sure you know your evacuation plan now in order to be ready to leave quickly should the need arise. Cal Fire has three simple steps you can follow: Ready, Set and Go. The “Ready” phase should be happening now. Make sure you have your emergency supply kits ready including clothes, medications, water and non-perishable foods. Don’t forget your pets. A full list of things to include can be found on Cal Fire’s website.You should also plan out your evacuation route and ideally, you should have more than one way to go. “The primary route that people go to and from their house on any given day may not be available during an emergency incident,” Cal Fire Assistant Chief Brian Newman said. “We highly recommend that people take the time to familiarize themselves with a different access route.”If a fire does ignite near your community, be “set” to react to quickly changing conditions. “Is the fire close by or is it farther away?” Newman said. “Is your go-bag and is everything ready to go in your vehicle? Your evacuation method and mode, is that ready to go with that?” Newman said it’s also important to pay attention to the weather forecast, especially on days with windy conditions. And if the threat from a spreading wildfire is imminent, it’s time to “go,” even if local emergency crews haven’t started knocking on doors.”The sooner a resident evacuates based on their assessment, then the sooner we can move on to the next area or community to make sure that they are advised of an evacuation,” Newman said.Newman added that waiting for that call not only reduces the amount of time you have to safely get out, but it also puts those emergency crews at risk. “It takes a whole team of people to evacuate a community and our law enforcement officers that we work with are very, very good at that but they also don’t want to put themselves in imminent danger trying to evacuate a community as well,” Newman said. And when it comes to looking for information on a wildfire situation, make sure you are using reliable sources, especially on social media. CalFire often handles issues surrounding misinformation about emergency situations which can lead to unnecessary panic and confusion.”Our Public Information Officers are really good about getting timely information on our social media sites that is factual information related what the fire is doing, where it’s going and what the communities at risk are,” Newman said.To find help making your evacuation plan and other information about preparing for wildfire season, visit ReadyForWildfire.org.Related Wildfire Resources 2022 California Wildfire Preparedness Guide: What to know and how to stay safe2022 Northern California wildfire resources: Where to find county evacuation info, maps, alerts and moreThis story was produced as part of KCRA 3’s “Wildfire Ready” special report.

The worst time to plan for an emergency situation like a fast-moving wildfire is when that fire is headed right for your home.

Fire officials urge everyone to make sure you know your evacuation plan now in order to be ready to leave quickly should the need arise.

Cal Fire has three simple steps you can follow: Ready, Set and Go.

The “Ready” phase should be happening now. Make sure you have your emergency supply kits ready including clothes, medications, water and non-perishable foods. Don’t forget your pets.

A full list of things to include can be found on Cal Fire’s website.

You should also plan out your evacuation route and ideally, you should have more than one way to go.

“The primary route that people go to and from their house on any given day may not be available during an emergency incident,” Cal Fire Assistant Chief Brian Newman said. “We highly recommend that people take the time to familiarize themselves with a different access route.”

If a fire does ignite near your community, be “set” to react to quickly changing conditions.

“Is the fire close by or is it farther away?” Newman said. “Is your go-bag and is everything ready to go in your vehicle? Your evacuation method and mode, is that ready to go with that?”

Newman said it’s also important to pay attention to the weather forecast, especially on days with windy conditions.

And if the threat from a spreading wildfire is imminent, it’s time to “go,” even if local emergency crews haven’t started knocking on doors.

“The sooner a resident evacuates based on their assessment, then the sooner we can move on to the next area or community to make sure that they are advised of an evacuation,” Newman said.

Newman added that waiting for that call not only reduces the amount of time you have to safely get out, but it also puts those emergency crews at risk.

“It takes a whole team of people to evacuate a community and our law enforcement officers that we work with are very, very good at that but they also don’t want to put themselves in imminent danger trying to evacuate a community as well,” Newman said.

And when it comes to looking for information on a wildfire situation, make sure you are using reliable sources, especially on social media. CalFire often handles issues surrounding misinformation about emergency situations which can lead to unnecessary panic and confusion.

“Our Public Information Officers are really good about getting timely information on our social media sites that is factual information related what the fire is doing, where it’s going and what the communities at risk are,” Newman said.

To find help making your evacuation plan and other information about preparing for wildfire season, visit ReadyForWildfire.org.

Related Wildfire Resources


This story was produced as part of KCRA 3’s “Wildfire Ready” special report.

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