Wildfire Preparation, Learning from Experience

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Jul 22, 2016 Comments Off on Wildfire Preparation, Learning from Experience Captain Panofsky


The La Honda Fire Brigade is hosting a wildfire preparation discussion at the La Honda Fire Station on Saturday, July 23 at 3 PM. The focus of this talk will be last year’s Valley Fire, which was one of the worst in California history, destroying nearly 1300 homes, killing 4 people and burning 76,000 acres.


We have a lot to learn from that particular fire as our conditions here are similar in many ways. Winds spread the    fire and embers at a ferocious rate but some people didn’t believe it and refused to evacuate. When they did, many were unprepared and had to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. And then they found the evacuation routes already jammed. When they returned, many found their homes gone. But some homes survived, seemingly miraculously. Why?


Valley Fire races through Middletown


This program will be an opportunity for us to learn what it feels like to actually go through the kind of fire we would likely have here — and to learn what preparations people should have made both to evacuate and to improve the chance that their home might have survived. I want to share my experiences and insights learned from the Valley fire with our community, so we can be better prepared. I was assigned to fight the Valley Fire as a Division supervisor trainee and spent 7 days assigned to the Valley Fire. I  was responsible for a team of approximately 100 firefighters fighting the fire. Crews conducted structure defense and perimeter control in the Hidden Valley Lakes area.


Valley Fire as it moves through Cobb, CA