By Vera Kochan / Lamorinda Weekly
Campolindo High School hosted a community awareness workshop June 27 to further educate homeowners about wildfire prevention and preparedness. Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan sponsored the event, which was attended by approximately 70 of her Lamorinda constituents.
Moraga-Orinda Fire District Chief Dave Winnacker gave an informational presentation beginning with a history of fires to the area. The most deadly fires arrive by winds from the north or northeast due to their dry components. These winds usually happen in the fall season. He further explained, "Within two miles of the Caldecott Tunnel, 15 major fires have burned since 1923. Eleven of these destroyed 3,542 homes, took 26 lives and caused over $2 billion in losses."
Winnacker stated there are two ways a fire typically spreads. One way is from object to object, such as tree to tree or tree to house. Another way is from floating embers which can be carried on the wind to distant locations. It is for these reasons that the community must maintain a clear yard.
Every home in the Lamorinda area was mailed a yellow resident's guide to wildfire preparedness. Among the invaluable information on its pages are pointers for reducing the risk of spreading fires. Limit the amount of flammable vegetation and trim branches that overhang the home, porch or deck; remove dead vegetation and dry debris from the property; do not store flammable materials next to the home or other wooden structures; clean all dead leaves from roofs and rain gutters; keep grass cut to less than 3 inches and have a defensible space around your home.
In the event of a fire, parents of school-aged children were urged to trust that the schools know what to do in an emergency. Winnacker stressed, "Schools have Shelter-in-Place procedures. Parents don't need to come to a school to pick up their kids. This actually impedes the fire department's efforts. We spray the whole school with water, and when the fire is out the kids will be transported to a safe location for pickup."
Also on hand to educate the public was Community Warning System Senior Emergency Planning Coordinator Livia Pop. The CWS is an emergency alert system for residents and businesses in Contra Costa County that are threatened by an emergency or are in immediate danger. The alert instructions will advise the recipient what to do to stay safe: shelter-in-place; evacuate immediately; avoid the area; attempt to locate missing person or law enforcement activity (lockdown).
Pop stressed, "For those with Caller ID the display will read as (000) 000-0000. Do not hang up! This will be your CWS Alert notification. Please follow the instructions in our messages to stay safe."
Info: To register with CWS visit their website at www.cococws.us or call (925) 313-9622. To reach Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan visit: www.asmdc.org/bauer-kahan or call (925) 328-1515.