As we all knew might happen, we have seen a major uptick in fire activity in August. There have been numerous vehicle fires that extended into nearby vegetation – a great reminder to be prepared with your go bag ready. On August 2, we saw a three-acre fire on Idaho-Maryland and Brunswick that resulted in an evacuation warning for Loma Rica Ranch. In the first week of August, there were numerous small fires, including one in North San Juan caused by suspected arson, one on Highway 49 near Carriage Lane caused by weed whacking, and another on Idaho-Maryland whose cause is still under investigation. It was in the early afternoon of August 4 that the fast-growing River Fire began in the Bear River Campground and, in the end, burned 2,619 acres and destroyed 142 structures. On August 14, the Caldor Fire began in nearby El Dorado County and has since spread to over 106,000 acres. On August 25, the Bennett fire blew up very quickly on E. Bennett Road, causing evacuations, damaging property and destroying vehicles. It was attacked very aggressively and was already under control by early evening.
Fortunately, President Biden declared that a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on July 14, 2021, and continuing. This declaration opens us up to Federal funds for Public and Private losses associated with the River Fire. It also opens up federal grant funds under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
The River and Bennett fires were a test for us. Did you stay calm? Did you stay tuned to the radio, the internet and/or your phone for Emergency Alerts mentioning your evacuation zone, using multiple sources to stay informed? Did you plan your potential evacuation routes and follow local news or social media to know whether they were passable?
If you haven’t yet, please look up your evacuation zone and write it down in a few places for a quick reference. It’s a good idea to know the zones of places you and your loved ones frequent, like schools or your workplace. On August 16, we conducted our annual CodeRED Emergency Alert test. If you did not get a notice, it is not too late to sign up for CodeRED. Knowing your zone and signing up for CodeRED is the best way to prepare for an evacuation warning or order. Sign up online at mynevadacounty.com/CodeRED or by dialing 211. Note that this is separate from the CodeRED mobile app, which gets poor user reviews and may be unreliable. I strongly urge you to sign up for CodeRED via 211 or the County’s website.
Also, please note that CodeRED Emergency alerts are used specifically for evacuation warnings and evacuation orders. Warnings alert you to get ready to evacuate; orders require you to evacuate immediately. CodeRED does not put out alerts about small fires, road closures, car accidents, etc. There are several great community resources for breaking news stories, including YubaNet’s Happening Now page, as well as several local Facebook groups that track police scanner activity and incident reports from residents. Dial 211 to talk to an operator for non-emergency updates and available community resources.
For more tips on being prepared, visit ReadyNevadaCounty.org and review this page with friends and family: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=4047