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Outruninning Wildfires
Julie Maxey Allison | 10th Street

Our California wildfires of 2017 made history. They destroyed more acreage and will cost more, estimated at $180 billion, than any previously recorded. The reality is more wildfires will flare up in 2018. As a follow up to the Sandpiper editorial of December 2017, here is more information on how to prevent, prepare, and if necessary, evacuate.

Clem Brown of the City of Del Mar, Captain Giovanni Maniscalco of the Del Mar Fire Department and Cap Pinney of CERT provided key facts and advice.

The overview:
Cap Pinney of CERT reports: Del Mar is perhaps one of the most vulnerable cities in case of a fire in San Diego County. With dry brush in the canyon to the east and plentiful trees on a sloping terrain to the west, a fire propagated on either boundary would spread fast in a Santa Ana wind condition. Residents would face an immediate need to evacuate the city. With the prospects of limited egress points to the north, south, and east up Del Mar Heights Road, roads would be expected to clog with bumper to bumper traffic necessitating an evacuation on foot for most citizens to open space such as the Fairgrounds, or the beach, or Powerhouse Park, or Shores Park.

Your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), consisting of civilian volunteers, provides help from CERT’s ham radio operators who can communicate effectively and assist in directing traffic away from the emergency. Our first choice of frequencies is the Del Mar Repeater on 446.880 MHz. Residents may need to arrive temporarily at an emergency shelter. Hopefully, there will be a ham radio operator there who can contact the Incident Commander wherever the command post is located.

Since evacuation may be necessary, plan ahead and be ready with quick reaction bags full of necessary items such as clothing, medicines, cell phones, cash, toiletries, etc., which can be carried, if needed.

In addition, CERT responds after the event. You can recognize a CERT volunteer by their green hard hats and vests and emergency back packs. To volunteer: contact Cap Pinney at 858-354-5319 or captlaw@aol.com. The CERT Spring Academy, a 25 hour program, will begin April 3 and end with a graduation drill on April 21.

Preventive actions:
Clem Brown reports for the City:
The City can assess properties for potential fire hazards and to ensure homes/businesses have defensible space through the Del Mar Fire Department: 858-755-1522.

For residents in a wildland-urban interface (WUI), and that can include homes on Crest Road, the best defense is to ensure your property has defensible space. For more information: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/.
Register your cell phone number with Alert San Diego. The County Sheriff can notify you of evacuation information: http://www.readysandiego.org/alertsandiego/
Download the Ready San Diego App on your cell phone here: http://www.readysandiego.org/SDEmergencyApp/
Look for information in case of emergency on the city website: https://www.delmar.ca.us and search “emergency.”

The Del Mar Fire Department is alert and ready to respond, says Captain Giovanni Maniscalco. In time of danger, the Incident Commander on duty will assess the scope of the fire. If the fire is likely to expand, a strike team will be alerted and may add staff. When necessary, Del Mar, with one rig, sharing duty with Encinitas and Solana Beach, can also call in area resources with various heavy duty rigs from Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, Carlsbad, and San Diego. In a large fire, helicopters and statewide help will be available.

During a fire:
The City’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated and provide information via the City’s website, social media platforms, and email blasts to inform residents on current information, such as emergency shelters (if needed).
If evacuation is called for, the County Sheriff’s office would organize the effort.

The City will coordinate with CERT and NEST.
Since evacuation may be necessary, prepare your evacuation plan in advance of an emergency. One way to plan is to focus on the Ps: People and Pets. Papers and important documents, Plastic—credit cards, ATM cards, and cash, Prescriptions and eyeglasses, Pictures, Personal Computer hard drive and disks.



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