The Saddleridge fire appears to have sparked at the base transmission tower, say officials — though arson investigators at the scene don’t want to say for certain. The fast-moving wildfire started only hours after SoCal Edison cut power to thousands of its Riverside County customers, for fear of this exact scenario. It’s how last year’s deadly Camp Fire was triggered up in Northern California, and this year power companies don’t want to take any chances. Fanned by the Santa Ana winds, the Saddleridge fire quickly led to the evacuation of 100,000 people in the Porter Ranch, Granada Hills, and Sylmar areas, and caused closures of portions of the 210, 5, and 405.
It’s a terrifying reminder of just how serious these red flag warnings are, and how vital it is that residents prepare. Everyone should have a plan. But it’s not just the before that matters… you also need to know what you will do and where you will go if and when the time comes to leave. In the path of a fast moving wildfire, you don’t have time to think. Time is truly of the essence. Act now, ask questions later.
Cal Fire calls its plan “Ready, Set, Go.” For the rest of this article, we’re going to leave the advice to the wildfire experts — there is no better place to hear it from.
Here’s what their plan entails:
Be Ready. Create and maintain defensible space and harden your home against flying embers.
Being Ready for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space and by hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials. Defensible space is the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass and weeds.
This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home. Hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers finding weak spots in the construction, which can result in your house catching fire.
It takes the combination of both Defensible space and the hardening of your home to really give your house the best chance of surviving a wildfire.
Get Set. Prepare your family and home ahead of time for the possibility of having to evacuate.
- Create a Wildfire Action Plan that includes evacuation planning for your home, family and pets.
- Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person in your household.
- Fill-out a Family Communication Plan that includes important evacuation and contact information.
Be Ready to GO! Take the evacuation steps necessary to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire. Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials!
- When immediate evacuation is necessary, follow these steps as soon as possible to get ready to GO!
- Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
- Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
- Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
Locate your pets and take them with you.
Read the full GO brochure here.
Take action right away, and follow these steps from CalFire. Everyone in your family should be aware of your evacuation plan, and know what to do in case of an emergency — even your children. If you get trapped while evacuating, CALL 911!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Ready, Set, Go.” Los Angeles Fire Department. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
“Prepare for Wildfire.” Cal Fire. Retrieved 11 October 2019..
“Wildfires.” Ready.gov. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
“Saddleridge fire: Latest evacuations, school and road closures.” Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 October 2019.