Valley Center Residents Listen to Fire Prevention Discussion
CFSC AND FARMERS SPONSOR VALLEY CENTER WILDFIRE READY-SET-GO PREPAREDNESS EVENT JUNE 18
“If the front of the fire is approaching your home would you debate whether to leave or stay? Why would you debate? While you are debating the wind may take the flames right into your home and trap you and your family. Don’t debate, leave.”
That was the sound advice offered by Valley Center Fire District Fire Chief Josef Napier to representatives of the Valley Center Fire Safe Council, homeowners of Valley Center and surrounding areas attending a Valley Center Wildfire Ready-Set-Go Preparedness Event June 18.
Sponsors of the event were the California Fire Safe Council, Farmers Insurance, International Association of Fire Chiefs, CAL Fire and Valley Center Fire District. The messages delivered on fire prevention and safety were made even more important as the temperature outside the Maxine Auditorium at Valley Center High School reached 103 degrees and the group was made aware of fires that were raging in Ventura County north of Santa Barbara.
CAL Fire Division Battalion Chief Jason Malneritch presented a slide presentation “Modern Fire Behavior in the Wildland Urban Interface,” the Poinsettia Fire and Cocos Fire that erupted during May 2014 in San Diego County. The fires erupted during severe Santa Ana Wind conditions, a heat wave and historic drought conditions similar to today in California. “We have learned a lot from the 2014 fires,” Malneritch said. “Today, with brush clearance, trail breaks and cleared ingress and egress efforts by fire agencies and citizens, we have a much better chance of quick containment. But everyone must be ready and set to go when notified. Leave early. If you wait, roads out get clogged with traffic caused by people leaving and fire and law enforcement vehicles trying to use the same roads.”
Sandra Miller Younger presented a gripping story of how she and her husband and two dogs escaped from their home in the Canyon during the Cedar Fire of 2003. She drove out of the canyon on a one lane road with a steep drop on the right side through smoke so thick she could hardly see. Luckily, as she slowed to keep on the road and not drop off the cliff, a mountain lion appeared from the hill, turned and ran forward. Mrs. Younger said, “Following the mountain lion saved our lives.” She discussed the trauma to survivors of a fire disaster, and how to cope through recovery and planning for the future. The Cedar Fire (accidently started by a 32 year old hunter), is the largest fire ever recorded in California history.
Sean Scott, the author of The “Red Guide to Recovery,” a resource handbook for disaster survivors, spoke about what to do after the fire.
Water pump demonstrations and booths from fire agencies, SDG&E, Farmers and CA Fire Safe Council were visited during breaks and lunch. CA Fire Safe Council shared a booth with Farmers agent Jeremy Klem (Valley Center), represented by Paul Eccles, producer from the agency. Three CAL Fire trucks were available for tours.
Paul Eccles welcomed the group, introduced the Jeremy Klem agency, and noted he would be available at the Farmers booth during breaks to answer any insurance questions.
Jerry Davies addressed the group and explained the fire prevention efforts of the CA Fire Safe Council.
Chief Napier gave cudos to Farmers for its concern for citizens who are involved in fire situations. He noted the Claims Bus and agents efforts in the fires in 2003 and 2014.
Thanks to Valley Center Fire Marshal George Lucia, Valley Center Fire Safe Council Executive Director James Couter, CAL Fire and all of the Valley Center firefighters of the Valley Center Fire District for presenting an excellent program.