Preparing for fire


I’m an expat in Australia living in the mountains in a very similar area to the California foothills but with far fewer people. My wife and I battled and survived a 2.5-million-acre forest fire in 2003 (“How to prepare for a wildfire,” HCN, 12/10/18). There is no evacuation plan on Earth that could have handled what happened in Paradise, California. Once the fire is burning, it’s too late. Making your home and community defensible and/or evacuating the moment a fire is reported is the only solution — sadly, one that most folks ignore until it’s too late, with tragic results. Those of us who live in Australia understand this; my American compatriots must try and learn from others. Australia’s Country Fire Authority has an incredible website with great information specifically geared to making your home defensible, and we now volunteer for this fire service. Leaving when the fire is licking your town’s toes is way too late, and the kind of panic visible in the photos of the burned-out vehicles illustrates why.

Jeffe Aronson
Anglers Rest, Victoria, Australia

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