Officials urge residents to learn about evacuation routes and how to protect their homes
Yolo County fire prevention agencies are currently in the process of preparing for this year’s wildfire season. The Green Valley Fire Safe Council, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District (Yolo County RCD) and other local agencies held a webinar on April 26 about wildfire preparedness.
Julie Rose, a Yolo County resident and owner of Fiddler’s Green Farm since 1991, has been forced to evacuate three times throughout the over 25 years she has lived in Capay Valley. During the lightning strike fires in California, she said there was no availability for fire departments to assist them in the sparsely populated area, and she was evacuated for about six days.
“From our farm, we could look to the west and in a quarter of a mile, see the flames approaching our property,” Rose said. “The air quality was super bad.”
As a member of the Capay Valley Fire Auxiliary, Rose recently attended a virtual meeting with several other agencies, including Yolo County emergency services and fire departments. There were about 35–45 people there, half of whom were representatives of different agencies. She explained how the meeting taught her that there were many actions they could take to prepare for the next fire season.
“I basically just had gone in thinking I was going to help provide food [for the firefighters during the next season], and that’s important to me in itself,” said Rose. “[The representatives of different agencies] were included to think bigger than just providing food.”
Rose highlighted a few aspects of wildfire preparation that the agencies discussed, including evacuating livestock, creating a database to store information, how volunteers could label addresses on properties and identifying which residents may need additional assistance in an evacuation. She highlighted the importance of preparing for wildfire season well in advance.
“We can hopefully more easily support our firefighters,” Rose said. “I do think it’s better that we are planning for the worst.”
In explaining the importance of fire education for residents, Yolo County RCD Program Manager Tanya Meyer emphasized that most homes that have burned down in wildfires were not prepared to withstand ember storms.
“We’re doing as much education as we can through the Fire Safe Council, both ours and our neighbors in Solano County,” Meyer said. “Education can save a home because oftentimes the homes will ignite when the fire is far away.”
Meyer said that the webinar included several speakers, including Aaron Latta, the CAL FIRE Battalion Chief for the Sonoma Lake Napa Unit, who discussed the current state of California wildfires. Speakers also presented on evacuation.
Meyer explained that the webinar will also teach residents how to protect their home.
“We’ll talk about things you can do around your home outside in a defensible space,” Meyer said. “Another topic will be what’s called home hardening, like cleaning gutters.”
CAL FIRE Information Officer Will Powers urged residents to always be aware of the risk wildfires pose.
“Evacuations have been taking place throughout the last five years with the major fires we’ve had in the unit,” Powers said.
CAL FIRE also provides information about preparing for wildfires, including items to put in an emergency supply kit. The CALFIRE app allows users to create personalized wildfire preparation plans and keep updated on active incidents.
Powers emphasized the importance of being prepared, especially during the summertime when the weather may be hotter and drier. He noted that wildfire season is year-round in California.
“Know your evacuation routes throughout your residential areas,” Powers said. “Sign up for any Facebook pages throughout your sheriffs or fire departments within those counties.”
Rose shared that preparing for wildfire season occurs on a community-wide scale.
“Fire preparedness is sort of an expression of care for the community, work for the community and each other,” Rose said. “That is really hope.”
Written by: Ellie Lee — firstname.lastname@example.org