Wildfire: When to stay, when to go | SierraSun.com

Wildfire: When to stay, when to go

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunTraffic lines up on Highway 89 south this week.

Ingress and egress, two words most Tahoe residents know in part because there are only a few of them ” ways in and out ” from the North Shore and in the Tahoe Basin.

In the case of a large wildfire in the Tahoe Basin, residents on the North and West shores would have limited options for exit routes if authorities gave evacuation orders. And with the threat of a catastrophic wildfire persistent, officials stress the importance of having a clear emergency plan in place.

Rui Cunha, Placer County Office of Emergency Services program manager, said in case of a large fire, a command team would meet at either Fire Station 52 at the intersection of Highway 267 and Highway 28, at the Tahoe City Public Utility District site, and possibly the Burton Creek Sheriff’s Station.

“If there are evacuations, typically they would be in a community that is threatened [by fire],” Cunha said.

If a fire was threatening, an extensive public information effort would be initiated, including walking the message out, using helicopters with loudspeakers and notifying local radio stations of instructions for residents.

Cunha said it is important for people to remember that in the event of a fire it is common practice for electrical service to be shut off.

“As a result, folks can expect to need to have a battery powered AM radio,” Cunha said.

He also suggested that residents be able to sustain themselves in their home for a few days.

Power lines can fall due to the sheer heat of the fire, Cunha said, or can be toppled by falling trees. In this situation, the office of emergency services would ask local power companies to shut down certain grids that could be potentially threatened by fire.

Cunha also warns against people driving to the scene of a fire to check it out or to see if they can help. Eventually and if needed, a volunteer effort will be coordinated, Cunha said, but until then, he says listen to instructions.

Caltrans Spokesman Mark Dinger said in the case of a large fire, Caltrans “always makes [their] forces available,” for local agencies and to help with road controls.

“The most important thing you have in the Tahoe Basin,” Cunha offered as a reminder, “is a talented group of professionals ” the fire and law professionals are second to none.”

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit http://www.placer.ca.gov/emergency.

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