The sun appears red during the California fire season. (Photo courtesy of La Cañada High School)
La Cañada High School

A west coast in flames — how to prepare for emergencies

This year, many Americans have experienced surprising and unfortunate events including the worst fire season in the West Coast.

In California, there has been a record-breaking 3.2 million acres burned so far, according to the L.A. Times.

When the California fire issue was brought up at a briefing near Sacramento, President Trump said, “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” Many believers of science were infuriated by their president’s dismissive and ignorant statements on the impacts of climate change that have significantly affected many Americans.

As seen in the map below by the Fire Weather & Avalanche Center, there were 2,241 active flames on Sept. 11. Since then, firefighters have contained and extinguished many fires, leading to a dramatic decrease in active fires.

(Image courtesy of Fire Weather & Avalanche Center)

One California fire, the Bobcat Fire, began on September 6 in the Angeles National Forest. It has burned 113,986 acres and is at 50% containment, according to the Incident Information System. This fire has caused the mandatory evacuation of parts in Arcadia and has given evacuation warnings to Monrovia, Sierra Madre, Kinneloa Mesa, Altadena, and La Cañada Flintridge.

On September 15, the Bobcat Fire got dangerously close to Mt. Wilson Observatory. Still, firefighters were able to keep the fire from the observatory successfully. Plans to contain spot fires and strengthen the fire lines were announced September 16.

In a community meeting on September 14, fire management said that fire lines were being strengthened due to predictions of an increase in fire activity due to dry fuels.

On September 17, firefighters’ efforts to secure the southern fire line was successful, allowing for “evacuation orders for residents north of Elkins Ave and East of Santa Anita Ave in the communities of Arcadia and Sierra Madre [to be] lifted.”

Air quality and visibility depend on the day. On September 14, winds pushed smoke to the north, clearing the skies of smoke, allowing for better visibility and air quality.

The sky is smoky on September 15 in La Cañada Flintridge. (Photo by Lauren Hong)

If you are in an area with bad air quality, here is some advice:

  1. Keep all doors and windows closed
  2. Do not turn on whole-house fans if you do not have a clean filter
  3. Try not to go outdoors unless necessary. If you do go outside, wear a mask that can block out smoke.

Here are some things you should keep in your evacuation kit:

  1. Water and food to last for a couple of days
  2. A supply of masks that can block out smoke (and viruses since we are still experiencing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic)
  3. Medication prescribed to patients within the household
  4. Emergency money
  5. First aid kit
  6. Flashlight
  7. Important Documents (birth certificate, passport, green card, etc.)