Wildfires and Business – The Sand Fire

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FEMA file photo

This year’s dangerous fires have once again left many families homeless, and businesses in jeopardy.

Our partners at Nexis Preparedness Systems have excellent resources on their website for preparation, as well as kits and emergency supplies for schools and businesses.

Fires Update

About 20,000 residents remained out of their homes Monday morning as the 51-square-mile Sand Fire continued to burn in Southern California’s Santa Clarita Valley.

The fire has burned about 10,000 acres per day since it began Friday in the hills north of Los Angeles.

“It has averaged about 10,000 acres per day,” said Chief Mike Wakoski, incident commander. “An acre is a football field, so imagine that — 10,000 football fields per day.”

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Google Alerts public site for the LA County Wildfire(s)

UPDATE 7/25/2016 9:00 AM PST

Fire behavior will be extreme today as winds pick up out of the SW at 30 mph in the afternoon. Please comply with evacuation orders. Large animals should be evacuated early in the am to avoid congestion and allowing access to firefighting equipment.

FEMA photo/Andrea Booher

FEMA photo/Andrea Booher

#SandFire

33,117 10% Contain. Fire behavior extreme. Please comply with evacuation orders.

The Sand Fire has burned 33,117 with 10% containment. Winds will be out of the Southwest at 30 mph picking up in the afternoon. Fire behavior is expected to be similar to previous days. The fire is passive when winds remain low in the morning. Fuels are responding to the the 5-year drought, low humidity, and extreme temperatures which causes the fire to move quickly.

Damage assessment teams are carefully evaluating impact to structures from yesterday’s firefight. As soon as the updated information becomes available, it will be provided. Currently, there are 18 structures destroyed and 1 damaged.

Personnel: 2,964
Crews: 43
Engines: 356
Dozers: 14
Water Tenders: 16
Helicopters: 26
Rapid Extraction Team: 2 (Firefighter rescue)

Fatality: 1 Civilian
Injuries: 2 firefighters minor

Residents impacted: 20,000
Residents evacuated: 10,300

770 Large animals currently in the care of Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control. Large animals can go to Hanson Dam, Pierce College, Antelope Valley Fairgrounds.

Small animals can go to Hart High School and Highland High School

WLA

EVACUATIONS
East of the 14 Freeway, from Golden Valley Road to Sand Canyon Road, excluding the Sand Canyon
Mobile Home Park (residents to evacuate; commercial businesses to shelter in place)
East side of Via Princessa from Lost Canyon Road to end of Via Princessa and all streets east.
Lost Canyon Road from Via Princessa to the Santa Clara River, and all streets to the east.
Sierra Highway @ Shady Lane to Sierra Hwy at the 14.
Escondido at the 14 to Sierra Hwy at the 14.
Agua Dulce Canyon Road north to the 14 Freeway.
Crown Valley Road north to the 14 Freeway.
Soledad Canyon Road between Agua Dulce & Crown Valley.
All residents in Sand Canyon from Lost Canyon to Bear Divide.
All residents in Placerita Canyon from the Nature Center to Sand Canyon.
Little Tujunga from Bear Divide to LA River Ranger District (Station), 12371 Little Tujunga Cyn Rd.

Review the below sound advice from the SBA concerning your business, and the safety and your employees, customers and property:

The impacts of a wildfire include direct property damage, cost of suppression and damage to personal  property and natural resources.

The severity of effects is directly related to the intensity and extent of the wildfire.

What follows is a checklist of some of the things to consider to prepare your business for such an event as well as to ensure the safety of the people within your organization.

Before the Onset of a Wildfire

  • Keep an adequate number of appropriate fire extinguishers in strategic locations (such as near  loading docks and waste collection areas) and maintain them properly.
  • Train employees on how to use extinguishers correctly.
  • Consider maintaining a water supply at your facility to control small fires until emergency personnel can arrive. You might install a water tank or install hoses and pumps to an existing  pond, river or lake. Be sure the hoses are long enough and inspect them regularly.
  • If your business is located in an area subject to freezing temperatures, be sure that water outlets and pumps are protected.
  • Evaluate water levels in extreme hot and cold weather conditions.  If your water pump uses electrical power, consider obtaining a gasoline – or diesel -powered pump or generator in case electricity is cut off during a fire. However, be aware of the risk of storing a large quantity of fuel. Use an appropriate storage facility that is protected against vehicle impacts  and fire.
  • Have appropriate tools, such as rakes, axes, saws, buckets and shovels, available to help control small fires while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

During a Wildfire

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest  building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls  as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect  your head and neck.
  • Do not open windows. Evacuation orders will often be swift and accurate for affected areas. However, if unable to evacuate, stay inside and away from outside walls.
  • Close doors, but leave them unlocked in case firefighters require quick access into your area.
  • Turn on battery operated radio to get latest emergency information
  • If your office roof is accessible by  ladder, prop it against the building so you and firefighters have access to the roof.
  • Mark your position clearly with anything that may signal rescue workers to your presence inside the building.  This could be articles of clothing or bright colored material attached to the outside of your location.
  • Close windows, vents, doors, blinds, etc.
  • Shut off gas meters, pilot lights and propane tanks.
  • Turn on all lights in the building to increase visibility in heavy smoke.

After a Wildfire

  • Immediately  check the roof, put out any fires, sparks or embers (if accessible).
  • If there is no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on.  Fires may cause breakers to trip.   If the breakers are on and power is still not available, contact the utility company.
  • ALWAYS contact 911 if any danger is perceived upon building re- entry and contact local experts before finally moving back in.

Your Employees

  • Train your employees in general fire safety, especially for tasks with a high fire risk, such as welding and cutting, fueling vehicles, working with flammable liquids, etc.
  • Teach employees about the importance of good housekeeping and grounds maintenance in preventing and controlling fires.
  • Have an adequate number of appropriate fire extinguishers and maintain them properly.
  • Train key employees in when and how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Consider when and how to evacuate employees if a wildfire threatens.
  • Establish an evacuation plan and keep it up to date.
  • Hold evacuation drills regularly so all employees will know who is in charge and so that they become familiar with evacuation routes and routines.
  • Make sure all employees can get out of the building, find shelter and communicate with a responsible person.
  • Plan primary and secondary exits from your buildings.
  • Consider how employees will escape if  doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire.
  • Plan two evacuation routes out of your neighborhood.
  • Consider how employees will evacuate on  foot if roads are closed or impossible to use, such as if they are blocked by emergency personnel.
  • Remember that ponds, lakes, rivers and landscaping or swimming pools can serve as safety zones.
  • Keep appropriate emergency supplies on hand, including flashlights, battery – powered portable radio, extra batteries, first- aid kit, manual can opener, non- perishable foods and bottled water.
  • If  designated employees will be working to protect the property, have appropriate clothing available, such as work boots and gloves, personal protective equipment and sturdy work clothes.
  • Teach employees about wildfire risks and preparedness.
  • Provide information to help employees  protect their homes, too.
  • If you a re located in a wildfire area, consider advising employees to keep personal disaster  supplies and copies of important documents at work in case they need to evacuate from work  without being able to get home.

For Personal Safety

Tips from ready.gov

Before:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees. Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • More about what to do before a wildfire.

During:

  • Wear protective clothing when outside – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
  • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowsing these structures as long as possible.
  • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready. Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
  • More about what to do during a wildfire.
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