In Sacramento and Loomis (the home town of NewCalMetals) it looks at first glance out the window like a typical cloudy winter day with more fog than normal. The clouds are smoke and that fog is smoke, and people with respiratory problems are having issues breathing outside due to unhealthy air quality from the Camp Fire and other fires in the area. Light winds out of the west would have brought cleaner air had it not been for the fire in Fairfield, a closer and smaller fire. People drive around holding foreheads in pain from headaches, many with N95 masks on. The wind will again shift from the north, bringing more of the Camp Fire in. Everyone knows how worse things are close by for the 20,000 plus newly homeless people to the north who have lost everything (or just about).
Paradise, California has “just about” burned down. A town most people have not heard of, now imminently known for being practically annihilated in California’s worst fire to date. For all intents and purposes, it’s gone. 90% of the homes and half the businesses, according to the mayor. The town of Paradise California has taken the sharp end of the brunt of the 2018 Camp Fire. 88 people have died from this fire.
Less than two hours due north from the capital of California, the bucolic town was rapidly encroached by a wildfire and because of unusually strong and dry vegetation and winds the people of Paradise had very little time to evacuate.
Videos were shared of smoke clouds that looked much like a thunderstorm would on a spring day.
In Butte County and Paradise, you have to register your cellphone to get text alerts for evacuation. Like most places in California, there is still no capability in 2018 to send out these evacuation alerts to all cell phones in the vicinity, even with the Amber alert and other systems installed. Though some cities will definitely have the technical know-how to do so if threatened in a hurry, this small town, like nearly all, did not.
Butte County does have a notification system, but it is opt in for people with cellphones. All landlines were notified automatically, but cell phones which were not on the list were not. The town has been aware of the risk of fire, and did conduct drives to get people to register. Some who registered may also have been out of cell phone range at the time of emergence, which is a case for having a land line if there ever was one (though it’s also ideal to have cell coverage with a cell provider who covers everywhere you normally go).
Here’s the point:
Those that live in or near the WUI should go onto the municipal website of their city or county website to register their cellphone number for immediate evacuations notifications, if necessary. No app installation should be necessary.
There is a short list at right with instructions if your area is not listed.
Today, in late March of 2019, I enter the township of Paradise. The city has clearly come alive once again, as traffic seems to be a healthy flow of workers and citizens. Burned structures remain, but clean up crews are working all over. One new thing stands out from the road. A new street sign says “Stay Strong, Paradise”.
FYI the WUI: Wildland-Urban Interface:
The 1/2 mile ‘buffer’ area between populated and unpopulated land.