By the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council
In October of 2007, a firestorm marched from the Cuyamacas to the coast, and for a solid week, San Diego County was besieged by multiple blazes including the Witch Creek, Harris, Rice Canyon and Poomacha fires. Over 515,000 people were ordered to evacuate. This was one-sixth of the county’s population and constituted the largest single fire evacuation in the nation’s history. It was chaos.
Hidden Meadows residents experienced the havoc firsthand. Cars were backed up from Interstate 15 through the Meadows as residents tried to escape the oncoming inferno.
Fortunately, the flames bypassed Hidden Meadows and the Deer Springs Fire Protection District. Other parts of the region were not so lucky. The countywide statistics remain staggering:
10 civilian deaths
23 civilian injuries
89 firefighter injuries
6,200 responders on the front lines
369,000 acres, or 13 percent of the county’s land area, burned
1,600 homes destroyed
800 outbuildings destroyed
$1.5 billion in property damage
The devastation provided painful evidence that most of the county was woefully unprepared for a major crisis and full-scale evacuation. Ten years have passed since the fires paralyzed the county. Many of us recall the event with feelings of fear, anxiety and panic, but what lessons have we learned from the experience? Knowing what to do in such an emergency could mitigate the sense of helplessness we feel, and help ensure better outcomes when the next disaster hits.
Which raises this question: Are you ready?
If a countywide fire were to strike in 2017, would you know what to do? What to pack? How to prepare your house? Where to go?
Too many of us don’t.
To better protect yourself and your family you need information. Get prepared by attending the “Hidden Meadows Scenario-Based Evacuation Exercise” on July 15, at 10 a.m., in the Hidden Meadows Community Center Pavilion. The pavilion is located next to the swimming pool at 28208 Meadow Glen Way West.
This highly informative session is being presented by the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council, along with the Deer Springs Fire Protection District and the Champagne Village Disaster Committee. Presenters will include CAL FIRE Battalion Chief and Deer Springs Fire Chief Nick Brown, a CAL FIRE evacuation expert, and representatives from local Fire Safe Councils, the County Sheriff’s Department and Caltrans.
The presentation is unique, because it will present you with a possible fire scenario — a fire breaking out in Moosa Canyon — and walk you step by step on what to do as the fire advances toward the neighborhood. Speakers will provide answers to such crucial questions as: How much time will we have to get out? What will emergency responders be doing? What should we pack? Where should we go? How will I reach my family members if cell phones aren’t working?
All residents of the Deer Springs Fire Protection District are invited to attend this exercise, although it is specifically tailored for Hidden Meadows. A similar presentation was delivered recently for Champagne Village residents. Future presentations are planned for other Deer Springs Fire District neighborhoods, including Jesmond Dene/North Broadway, the Treasures, and West Lilac.
One of the missions of the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council is to educate residents about the danger of wildfire so we can be ready for the next fire. We hope you join us to learn what you can do to prepare for an emergency evacuation.
For more information about the July 15 workshop, please call (760) 532-5708.