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Even If You Haven’t Been Evacuated By The Dixie Fire, It Might Be Smart To Get Ready

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CAL FIRE Butte Unit/Butte County Fire Department
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Dixie Fire

Read the transcript (*Full list of preparedness/evacuation resources for Plumas and Butte counties below)

ALEC STUTSON, HOST:

While fire officials have been able to hold many areas of the Dixie Fire burning in Plumas and Butte counties, they’ve evacuated more than 800 households and the fire continues to grow. Yesterday the fire doubled in size. It’s now more than 30,000 acres. Much of the growth has been on the north and east sides of the fire where populated communities are located miles away.

NSPR’s Sarah Bohannon today spoke with program manager of the Plumas County Fire Safe Council, Hannah Hepner, about how residents in the vicinity of the fire can prepare.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

Right now there is a lot of focus in the Quincy area and in my work on assisting those folks in Meadow Valley with the resources that they need right now. And in Quincy, I think we’re certainly aware that there is a risk, if it gets to Meadow Valley there’s not much between there and Quincy with the fire behavior that we’re seeing to slow it down or stop it. So certainly we’re aware here, and getting ready for potential evacuation.

REPORTER, SARAH BOHANNON:

And so what does that look like for people? What should folks be doing?

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

“Well, it is different depending on different people's situations. Folks with livestock certainly need to be prepared in different ways. Folks with just home pets need to be preparing for those animals as well. But you know, at a minimum, having a ‘go-bag’ ready, packed in the vehicle. Having fuel in your vehicle. These are sort of minimums. And then preparing around the home. So ideally, everyone's defensible space is in place. But there are things that can be done right before an evacuation to help the chances of a home surviving. So that would be, you know, really making sure that those gutters are cleaned out of pine needles, that they're raked from right around the bottom of the home and on deck. But also things like placing ladders up against the house, connecting hoses, that sort of thing all can potentially help once a person's evacuated.

REPORTER, SARAH BOHANNON:

And I'm thinking that those measures are helpful for firefighters it sounds like?

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

Yeah, exactly.

REPORTER, SARAH BOHANNON:

What about knowing your evacuation route, having that planned out? Maybe making sure that you're in communication with neighbors or anyone else?

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

Yeah, and a lot of Plumas County communities do have evacuation maps, and they're available online from the county or from the fire safe council website. And, this would be a point at which it would be really important to relook at that map, even if you've seen it before, because now we know what direction the fire would potentially be coming from. These maps sort of, they have multiple options that are valuable, but it's not until you're actually in a wildfire situation in which you need to be thinking about what your best option is.

REPORTER, SARAH BOHANNON:

And just to reiterate, the fire would be coming kind of from the southwest, right? Or at least the west?

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

It’s going to depend a lot on what the winds do. And the concern right now is that there's an unstable atmosphere, there's potential for outflow winds that are going to move this fire in ways that potentially we're not able to predict as well. But it [the fire] is to the west of Quincy.

REPORTER, SARAH BOHANNON:

The other thing I wanted to talk to you about, and in an interview I feel like a few months ago we had talked about this, but just how dry fuels are this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANNAH HEPNER)

Yeah. And that seems like one of the greatest challenges. You know, I've just heard incidentally that the Beckworth Complex, which is a different fire burning in Plumas County, that some structures were lost that would have been expected to stand on their own with very little suppression needed. And we're in a situation in which the probability of ignition, so when one of those embers lands on the ground, the probability that it's going to start another little fire is 100%. So that means every ember that's landing is starting another fire. That's very significant, and it's going to put structures more at risk than we're used to seeing.

ALEC STUTSON, HOST:

That was program manager of the Plumas County Fire Safe Council, Hannah Hepner, speaking with NSPR’s Sarah Bohannon about the Dixie Fire and how residents near the fire can stay alert and be prepared.

*List of resources for Plumas and Butte counties

Plumas County

Plumas County Fire Safe Council

Wildfire Evacuation (includes community evacuation maps, ‘go bag’/ember awareness checklist and CodeRED Emergency Alert sign-up)

Animal Evacuation Guide

Living With Fire

You can also contact the Plumas County Fire Safe Council with wildfire preparedness questions

Phone: 530-927-5294

Email: plumasfiresafe@plumascorporation.org

Butte County

Butte County Fire Safe Council

Disaster Preparedness (includes community evacuation plans/maps, evacuation tips and checklist)

Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies (including information about evacuating horses, livestock and household pets)

CodeRED Emergency Alert sign-up

You can also call the Butte County Fire Safe Council with wildfire preparedness questions

Phone: 530-877-0984

Email: volunteers@buttefiresafe.net