Preparation key to safe fire evacuations |

Preparation key to safe fire evacuations

Kurt Hildebrand
Hwy. 395 is closed just north of the Topaz Lodge on Sept. 1 as fire crews set backfires to the west of the highway.

During August’s Slinkard Fire, residents of Topaz were told to evacuate while those living in Holbrook Highlands merely received a suggestion.

The difference wasn’t the proximity of the flames, but the difference in state law between Nevada and California.

In California fire officials can order an evacuation, but in Nevada only the governor can order someone from their home.

That leaves Nevadans with a decision to make as flames approach their homes.

The big fires burning in California are a reminder of how critical that decision can be.

“These types of fires are the worst-case situations that in many cases defy planning efforts and out-pace tactical strategies in minutes,” East Fork Chief Tod Carlini said. “The devastation is so complete and fast.”

Carlini reminded East Fork residents that the Sierra Front is not excluded from fires because wildfire season is no longer limited to May through October.

“We want people to recognize the risk factors depending on where they live,” he said. “Those who live in the urban interface should plan ahead for a rapid and immediate evacuation.”

Carlini said the district will provide evacuation presentations to community groups, homeowner’s association, and the general public upon request.

He recommended that people follow the five P’s when preparing for an evacuation, “people, pets, pills, photos and papers.”

He urged residents to put a 72 hour kit together.

If evacuations are recommended and residents choose to remain with their homes, Carlini said the resources may not be available to provide assistance.

Anyone interested in learning more about evacuation planning and preparation should contact the East Fork Fire Protection District. Carlini said he highly recommends residents sign up for cell phone emergency notification, especailly if they no longer have a land line to their home, which is becoming more common situation. People can sign up by going to the following link:

East Fork firefighters have responded to two wildland fires in the month of October including the 1,700-acre Cutter Fire, south of Gardnerville and the 10-acre Stephanie Fire, in northern Douglas County. The district provides service to 96 percent of Douglas County, including having some jurisdiction in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

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