Fire safety discussed for Banner Mountain, Cascade Shores residents | TheUnion.com

Fire safety discussed for Banner Mountain, Cascade Shores residents

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There was standing room only — including the lobby.

The topic discussed — fire, and how to keep safe from it — drew a large crowd at Nevada County’s Eric Rood Center.

“(Fire safety) is a two-sided coin,” said Kent Rees, a representative for the Cascade Shores Homeowners Association. “It’s the public responsibility on one side of the coin, but it’s the personal responsibility on the other side of the coin.”

Rees encouraged community members to be fire safe by cleaning up the area around their homes and following the lessons of public safety officials. He acknowledged that, like much of the audience, he didn’t anticipate fearing for his life when he moved to the area.

“So when we made this trade off to move up here and to run the risk of losing our houses, we didn’t go the step further and say the trade off was also that we may have to lose our lives in the process,” said Rees.

Public officials were gathered to the center Wednesday by Friends of Banner Mountain and the Cascade Shores Homeowners Association mostly to discuss how to protect oneself and personally prepare for a wildfire.

THE WORST IS HERE

“We are in an era of unprecedented wildfire,” said District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall.

Of the 20 most destructive fires affecting structures, nine of them occurred in the last five years, said Cal Fire North Operations Division Chief Jim Mathias. Due to droughts, Mathias said the county has 124 million dead-standing trees throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range, making the area susceptible for a wildfire.

“If they are happening every year, I’m not going to tell you they are an anomaly anymore,” he said.

Weather, topography and fuel are three components involved in creating a fire, said Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department Chief Jim Turner. With heavier fuel loading and drier winds, a wildfire is more likely to start.

“It consumes a lot of acreage in a short period of time,” said Turner, who has worked for over 30 years in fire safety service.

Public officials like Turner advocated people clean up brush and overgrown vegetation around their homes. The consolidated department chief said his agency will help anyone interested in making their home fire safe.

“We will work with you to help you adjourn these issues,” said Turner.

Turner also encouraged being aware of back and side road exits from ones home now in case the main routes are clogged during a wildfire.

In the event of a wildfire, “I implore and beg you to get out as quickly as possible,” he said.

Although the danger is concerning, multiple public officials acknowledged how well each public agency worked together.

“The cooperation in Nevada County and Placer County is better than anywhere else,” said Mathias

Turner agreed.

“We have the finest mutual aid system from around the world.”

WHEN FIRE ARRIVES, LEAVE

Nevada County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Sean Scales warned the audience to only to take what is needed during a wildfire evacuation.

“In the event of an emergency, please don’t be selfish,” he said.

An issue public safety officers’ encounter during evacuations is not just evacuating people but also getting fire crews in and closer to fire, said Grass Valley CHP Office Commander, George Steffenson. As such, he also advised people not to take many household items.

“If you see a glow on the horizon or you’re smelling smoke” then leave, said Office of Emergency Services Manager, Jeff Pettitt. He warned not to wait until you hear something from a public official or when the fire is nearing your home.

Pettitt urged everyone to sign up for CodeRED to get emergency alerts from the county, and to have a preset meeting place outside the endangered area with family members in case cell reception does not work.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.


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