The Summer of 2014: Preparing for Wildfire

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman June 15, 2014 15:44

Drought’s even more evil twin is wildfire, and the same bone-dry winter that makes water conservation so vital this year could ratchet fire danger sky-high by summer’s end. Just as it is with surviving drought, the key to preventing or surviving wildfire is careful preparation. With the region’s 257,000-acre Rim Fire less than a year behind us, we know the risks.

Here are five ways to reduce those risks:

Clear your property

Clear brush, weeds, dead and downed trees within 100 feet of your house and trim back overhanging limbs. It’s the law and it may save your home, as the amount of clearing done can determine which homes fire crews choose to protect in dire conditions.

Install a fire-resistant roof

If you’re building or remodeling, install a metal, tile or slate roof. Fully half the homes destroyed by California wildfires lack both 100-foot clearance and fire-resistant roofs. In contrast, of the homes destroyed by wildfire, only 1 percent had both proper clearance and a fire-resistant roof.

Get on the radar

Do you have medical problems or need help getting around? If so, let relatives, friends and neighbors know as early as possible where you live and what help you will need evacuating in case of a fire. Post your address so law enforcement and firefighters can find you.

Evacuate promptly

Once the order is issued, leave. Although it is legal to disregard such orders and try to fight a wall of flame with a garden hose, those who do run a high risk of injury and death.

Stay informed

If fire threatens, monitor its progress online, on the radio or by calling the phone numbers listed on page 46. If evacuation seems likely, gather your valuables and emergency supplies and get ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

To report a fire anywhere in the state, call 911.

For up-to-the-minute information, DO NOT CALL 911 or dispatch numbers for county sheriffs’ offices or fire departments.

Instead, public safety officials say, in Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador counties (all 209 area code) use the phone numbers and sources that follow.

All three counties make reverse 911 calls to those living in areas to be evacuated, and also coordinate door-to-door notification.

Information numbers and sources by county

Amador County 223-6333

The number above is the Office of Emergency Services – Call for recorded, updated fire and evacuation information.

To sign up for email emergency alerts or to register your cell phone for reverse 911 calls, visit and click on “emergency information.”

For info on larger fires, call Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado Unit: (530) 647-5218.

Roadrunner emergency advisory radio, broadcast from a limited-range transmitter set up by OES during fires and other disasters: 530-AM.

Calaveras County 754-5527

The number above is for Cal Fire – call for large fire information.

To sign up for email or text message alerts on fires and other disasters, register online at

Tuolumne County 533-6392

The number above is the Community Information Line – call for recorded, regularly updated fire and evacuation information.

For questions on safety, roads, animals, special needs, etc., call citizen/media info lines. Numbers are announced on radio and are available through the 533-6392 info line. For updates on larger fires, call Cal Fire’s Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit: 754-5527.

Other sources

Red Cross 533-1513

To let family members know you are safe during a disaster, list your name online with, a free service.

Radio, newspapers

Sonora, KVML 1450AM, KZSQ 92.7FM, KKBN 93.5FM (online, Jackson, KVGC 1340 AM (online, Newspapers,,,

Government websites

Cal Fire,; Tuolumne County,; Calaveras County,; Amador County, For info on fires burning on U.S. Forest Service lands,




Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman June 15, 2014 15:44
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