California Fires Are Wakeup Call For Preparedness

California Fires in Santa Rosa

California fires are burning down everything in their path. Towns, neighborhoods and businesses have been burnt to the ground.

While looking at images of the devastation it looks like a war zone.

As of this posting 3,500 structures have been destroyed, 23 people have been killed, 285 remain missing, and 170,000 acres have been scorched to the ground.

Homes have been reduced to ash and rubble.

This got me to thinking about preparedness and how it relates to out-of-control fires.

Fires in Northern California

Preparedness For Fire

What strikes me when I look at pictures of burnt out neighborhoods is that EVERYTHING can easily and quickly be burnt to the ground.

All of your ‘stuff’ in your home and on your property… gone.

While we often focus on preparedness items, what really matters is your life. If you’re alive, you can find a way to recover from having lost your home and your ‘stuff’.

That said, what are some of the things we can do to prepare for fire?

Fires Can Move Fast: Get Out

Parts of our country are more susceptible to this than others. Fast moving fire. Winds will send burning embers a very long way downwind and spread the fire. This can happen very fast.

Dry conditions, ample undergrowth ‘fuel’ (brush), and wind. All you need now is a spark.

You can be many miles away from a burning fire and suddenly your own neighborhood goes up in flames.

If you know there’s a fire burning in the region, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to get out. To evacuate. There’s a chance that if you wait too long, you will not be able to get out at all…

All Your Eggs In One Basket

Most all of us have many eggs in one basket when it comes to our physical preps. Our food storage, deep pantry, all those extra consumable supplies, you name it… It’s in our homes, our basements, our garage, our outbuildings, etc..

What happens when a devastating fire roars through?
It’s all gone.

Proof Of Possession For Fire Insurance Claim

You do have fire insurance right?

First and foremost, the physical structure of your home can be replaced with payout from a fire insurance claim.

Beyond that, the coverage of contents within your home will depend on your policy. So check it out (your policy). There likely are limits and restrictions. Find out what they are and make adjustments to your policy if you think it’s important.

You will probably need to prove that you had those contents. Two very effective ways to assist in proof of contents is to photograph what you have and / or video what you have.

One room at a time, take pictures or video (I do both) the entire room. Open closets and do the same. Think about contents in drawers. Open boxes, look everywhere, think about anything of value. You will not miss anything so long as you systematically go through each room and every space in the room. Don’t forget the basement, attic, or wherever you may have stored items.

CAUTION: Don’t keep the only copy of proof in your home (it will be lost with everything else).

You might consider a safety deposit box at your bank. You could keep electronic copies somewhere “in the cloud”. I keep electronic copies on a flash drive kept on my key chain.

Related article:
The Corsair Stealth Survivor USB Flash Drive Key-chain Backup

Replacing those Preps

You can replace the ‘stuff’ that you had in your home. If you have insurance it will be easier, although payout might take awhile. If you don’t have coverage for contents, it’s going to cost money and you will essentially be starting over.

So, that brings up another point. It is a very good idea to save money for “a rainy day”. You never know when a situation will arise whereby you will need to draw on reserves.

That means maintaining a budget that enables you to save money. I have written lots of articles on that topic, however the simple premise is to live BELOW your means. The more you live below your means, the quicker you can save significant reserve funds.

We all make choices regarding our income versus lifestyle. You are in control of your own destiny in that regard. So just be aware.

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide To Money

Related article:
To Be As Debt Free As You Can Be

 
CONCLUSION: The fires in California have devastated many families. It reminded me of how quickly we can lose everything “material”. We can spend our entire lives acquiring and refining our ‘stuff’ but it can all be gone in a minute. Think about that. Think about what you would do if you lost it all.

Lives trump ‘stuff’. But if you do lose all your ‘stuff’, do you have a plan?

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74 Comments

  1. Some important things like the deed to my house are in a safe deposit box. I have a list of improvements that is stored on an Excel file and copied to my Yahoo mail account. So I can access it from anywhere as long as I remember my password to Yahoo mail. Unfortunately, I don’t have a scanner, so my receipts are at home and not stored on my computer. Maybe I should move them to my safe deposit box as well.

    I have insurance on contents. Last month I finally replaced my broken cell phone, so I took pictures of each room and closet in my house and stored them on my cell phone.

    I can’t think of any time in our history when we had so many hurricanes, wildfires, mass shootings, and other disasters in a month’s time. I wonder how stretched our government’s resources are.

    1. I always am baffled by the pictures taken to prove ownership–couldn’t those be faked?
      taken of another person’s home?? another person’s contents??

      My insurance policy has a fixed amount on contents, etc.

      1. Most policies do have a fixed amount on contents, but you have to prove that you had the items that total that fixed amount, or you are likely to get a much smaller portion to that part of your insurance claim.

        1. Oh, I definitely don’t have the contents amount covered at my house.
          I shop at kmart and flea markets!!

      2. JJ

        The pictures of my house contain a number of unique items and no one else has. For instance, I made sure to include the pictures hanging on my walls. Those were either of relatives or pictures painted by my grandmother or other relatives. There is book of pictures that several relatives have copies of. My uncle went around to everyone who he knew had pictures my grandmother painted and he took photographs of all of those and made up books for all the sons and daughters of my grandmother.

        There is also a picture of my desk, the bookcase my father made in 1960, the cedar chest my father made in 1933, And a one of my cats posed in a couple of the pictures.

        Through some of the windows you can see the yard outside.

        I suppose, too, the adjuster would find remnants of the things that burned.

    2. Daisy K
      If you have made improvements to the property, did you inform your insurance carrier that this occurred? They may request an agent take photos or yourself of the changes, you will also need to inform them the cost of improvements along with with labor cost. If labor was free, estimate what it would have cost you, had you paid someone to do it for you. That way should something occur you will have enough coverage to pay for the entire loss.

      1. Antique collector,

        Yes, I did notify my insurance company when I bought the lot next door and informed them of the improvements to the garage. It increased my premium 27 dollars per year.

        Yesterday the County Assessor came by to update my property. They do that every 6 years, and this was the year. They didn’t know I had central air and I told them, so that will probably increase my taxes, but since the “garage” still doesn’t have electricity, I convinced them they should still classify it as a “shed” even though it got a new roof and siding and new doors.

    3. I scan all receipts and toss them. The copies are honored because of the bar code. Be aware that receipts are printed with ink that fades rapidly. Scanners are cheap.

    4. One further point, have your list stamped by a notary , this proves on this date proof positive that is when you made the list, even pictures printed out should also be stamped………I had a home burlary in Texas and the insuring company sailed the claim through, told me this was the way to go.

      1. Icecathook
        Will have to check the cost of having each item stamped, but I like this concept of proving your property & contents.

        Last time it was over $20.00 for two signatures so we could straighten out the uncles estate. Due to the title company generating an error in the paper work, which was not located until after his death…year later.

  2. I agree that taking pictures of every room, closet, drawers, and nook and cranny is the best way to not forget anything. Also don’t forget outdoor items as well. Sheds, tractors, outdoor furniture, attics, and crawl spaces.

  3. THANK YOU MSB. We got to half a dozen responses, none of them (so far) are celebrating destruction in California. There have (so far) been no mean, snarky comments about ‘it’s a start’ ‘cleansing by fire’, ‘falling into the ocean’, ‘Phoenix beach front property’, etc.and so forth.

    Certainly this place has gone downhill (along with the whole of the country and world, BTW) in the 30+ years since I moved here from a truly dreadful place, my hometown, Chicago. But on a population percentage basis, right-thinking people and decent citizens truly do out-number the highly vocal, activist, shrieking attention seekers. I think that may be true of every state.

    That said, these fires are quite serious. NorCal is getting the press coverage, but there have been very large, persistent, aggressive, wind-driven fires in Orange County as well for the past week. When the wind shifts at night, the thick noxious smoke envelopes my town. All windows must be closed, Internal AC must be run even if the temps don’t warrant it, just to keep the air breathable. The tight proximity and timeline for these fires makes me highly suspicious that most were not random or accidental.

    1. McGyver, I lived there for nearly 15 years (NorCal). CA is a vulnerable place for fires during certain times of the year (as are other parts of the country). I appreciate the ‘Thank You’. I will not resort to poking fun of CA residents who have lost everything and/or have been affected by the fires. It’s human, regardless of where one lives.

      I hope that this disaster (‘these’ disasters) will open the eyes of some who are suffering from normalcy bias. These things can and do happen.

      Best to be prepared as best as one can be…

        1. Mr Gray. The redwoods thrive on fire. It takes certain high temperature to get the seed pod to open . Most of those trees have been here since Jesus walked the Earth and need no help from us. JMHO

  4. I still think Isis is behind some of these… but they won’t ever tell us. War zones are all around us. The country cannot survive as divided as we are and its current path. I’m just praying it’s years ‘n not months…

    1. This (fire starting) was (is) part of their playbook. I would not be surprised to discover that this was intentional. .gov will cover it up though (IMO).

  5. I have always wanted to see Northern Calif. and the Redwoods. Fire is something we don’t have to worry too much about around here. Gatlinburg burned a year or so ago. Caused by humans.
    Best of luck and safety to all of you in the area. Those fires seem to have a life of their own.

  6. Part1
    I will pass on the knowledge from working in the field of insurance(personal lines) and going through a total loss. (I am not an agent/worked as an CSR).
    There are renters policies, homeowners policies, mobile home policies and farm packages.

    1)Renters: simple gives you coverage of your personal belonging should you lose them in a fire, wind, etc damage to the structure you dwell in. It will also assist you with additional living expenses if you are displaced.**(flood coverage not included)** add’l policy is required for flood. There is also replacement cost coverage which is an additional premium.

    2) Homeowners/Mobile homes: They cover your home-personal property-living expenses should you be displaced(no flood coverage).

    3) Mobile home policies come standard or with replacement cost coverage’s(add’l charge). Standard policies pay the cost of replacing the same home so if you paid 10k for it but it is only worth 5k at the loss, you only receive the 5k on a standard policy. That also includes your personal property if you have standard on home an your contents are depreciated. You can up grade to a replacement cost on the home and personal contents.

    4) Homeowners policies: If I recall correctly, they have a standard and replacement cost. All the applications that I filled out had RC on the home and contents JIC. The cost was (at that time)less than 20 dollars for the two add’l up grades, yes it was many a moon ago.

    5) Farm packages: I know this one because we are covered with this one due to the amount of land we purchased. Would not qualify under an HO3(homeowners). Farm packages are different type of coverage all together, and I have had to read the entire policy to understand what we have and did not have. Then calls to the agent that has the policy through their agency to check where overages fell due to additions to the land & out buildings.

    1. Antique Collector.

      Yes, there are standard and replacement policies. I have a replacement policy, which is a lot more than my house is worth and has generous contents coverage (50% of the home’s value), rubbish removal, and temporary living expenses. But because I have so little else except my house, I would need the extra to rebuild or find another house.

      If my home were destroyed and all I had was current value, I would not be able to pay for rebuilding, much less replace the contents. Then there would be demolition of the old structure, living expenses while waiting for the new house to be rebuilt, etc. Similarly, I could not buy a new house, pay for demolition of the old house, pay moving expenses, temporary living expenses, etc. for the amount the old house was worth.

      Replacement value costs a little more, but I think it is worth it.

  7. A friend lives in the Sonoma area. He was fortunate that he had a little bit of time to pack up a few things while evacuating his family and pets.

    As they were driving out of town they snapped a picture of a long line of people waiting at a gas station at the far end of the evacuation area. I thought of Ken always talking about keeping the gas tank on the full side. I can’t imagine the fear as you are told to leave RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and jumping into a vehicle that’s nearly out of gas.

    As McGyver mentioned, So Cal is also coping with fires. The weather forecast down here is more heat, low humidity and high winds. Very difficult to fight these fires, and predict where the next hot spot will be when the wind is carrying embers far from the flames. I’m fortunate to have to only deal with some smoke & ash – many folks are truly devastated in CA right now.

    1. So Cal Gal & McGyver

      Assuming the winds you’re talking of are the Santa Ana winds that come pouring in off the Deserts?
      Extremely hot and strong, I remember them well.
      These fires very VERY dangerous and fueled by years of very dry growth and HOT winds. AND are Extremely hard to put out because of the speed they travel.
      Y-all stay safe out there ok?

      1. @NRP,

        Exactly, this time of year the Santa Ana winds (blowing toward the coast from the deserts instead of the other way around) are brutal for firefighters. These fires can run up and down a hill in minutes. Even homes with good brush clearance can burn from blowing embers landing on a roof or lawn. The news had a retired firefighter on the other night talking about trying to save homes in his neighborhood (some were lost) with a garden hose after everyone was told to evacuate. I can’t speak for McGyver, but I’m far enough away that there is no risk. Thanks!!

    2. @So Cal Gal, YES! This is a perfect example of keeping one’s gas tank on the full side! Thanks for pointing that out.

      Get in the habit of keeping your tank ABOVE half full. My personal threshold generally is 3/4 tank unless running a long haul trip whereby I’ll let it drop lower (knowing I will be refilling that day).

  8. Where I live a 2 acre fire was raging on stumpage after the 2012 blow down, a block from my home, so I went through the packing to leave, only to have the fire put out before it reached my home.. I threw everything in the truck because there was no time to organize anything. The fire took the power out and I had no way to get to down the home.

    When in a situation where you have 10-15 minutes to pack and leave everything to burn up at the house, I took all the non-replaceable items like photos, cash, insurance policies, my computer, a few antiques,, my food storage, camping supplies, and my boat and dogs, as the water planes doused the fire. It was spectacular watching them circle my house as they skimmed the lake and flew 100 feet over my head. I watched the firefighters as they fought the fire, and for some strange reason while I was waiting for the evac. order to leave, I brought them some homemade iced tea that hot day since it was to be devoured by the fire.

    Those fighting the fire were my coworkers, and the fire watch crew were my friends. I was very grateful for their efforts. My plan was to evac. to a small town to assess the future and options, but I would have camped out if the house was consumed. No motel would take my dogs, and my dog crates in my gazebo tent at a campground would have held them while I went to work not far away.

    I had to think ahead of time for a disaster like this and had a plan, since fire is the most presiding thing in a disaster scenario here, although no major fire has swept this area since white man came.

    The great Hinkley fire south of here 100 miles back in 1894 was a result of stumpage and dry conditions as well. Many Hinkley residents took refuge by train in a lake with a swamp surrounding the area. This is why it was important for me to take my boat in case the fire went out of control. With a boat, you can take some supplies with you. You can learn a lot from history, including clean up the stumpage left from storms and timber harvesting.

  9. “All Your Eggs In One Basket”
    Yes I am guilty of this. After Irma’s eye-wall passed right over top of my home. I have been looking for a storage facility that can meet my needs to store some preps for after a hurricane and possible flooding. My home escaped harm this time and we stayed dry with no real damage. I will be staging supplies elsewhere.

  10. Part 2
    Survival after a total loss:
    1) Call your agent that carries your insurance coverage. Reason WHY, so that any additional living expenses you are about to incur will be covered by your company. What receipts does one think will qualify…all of them, and make COPIES of each and every receipt!! Date the top of the receipt in black ink, FYI, and if need be what it was for, diner, gas, lunch, etc. Then it will be up the claims agent at the company you are with to decided what is & is not covered. They will discuss it with you, or at least they should.

    2) Companies will usually send you part of your personal property coverage to get you back on your feet. **(how ours was processed)**. This money– although it is for half of your property coverage is to give you money in your pocket, so do NOT BLOW it buying new vehicles. Not us, another party who lost their home–lack of fore thought.

    3) Clean up of property: Clothes-shoes(not tennis)-gloves-bandana hair coverage & N 95 with respirator, protective glasses. DO NOT enter area without the above, when clean up is through(complete clean up)said clothes will be hazardous waste. Yes, the particulates that come from the ash are so small they invade your lungs, and your skin can absorb them. That is why I said HAZARDOUS!! Use all caution if you have go into an area to assist in a clean up.

    3a) Clean up of Property: The hazardous materials will be removed and taken to a land fill or ?? depending on the services. The removal companies may ask that you have debris separated by piles. In our case we had a manufactured home so the metal I beams went into a different area from the melted aluminum.

    4) Clean slate: The land has all the materials removed and you can start to rebuild. Do or do not rebuild? I would like to make the following suggestion– wait at least one year before you jump back into the rebuilding. YOU never know what is going to happen in your personal life, the stress from the loss can tear up a marriage, your children’s state of mind. Coming to understand it was beyond a persons(yours) control, is the hardest sociological event one can deal with due to the traumatic highs and lows the brain will process.
    We were lucky still married an pushing 40 years together.

    1. AC,

      Thank you for sharing of all this info and what you learned. From preparedness to coping – really valuable insight from someone who has lived through it. I’m so glad for you and yours that you came through it all together, and hoping you are still out of harms way now. Take care!

    2. Thank you for information that can help others. Sorry you had to go through such a scenario. This information can help others that may have to face such losses.

      1. Peanut Gallery
        That is why we share this experience with others. WE really wish everyone who lives in areas of high risk to be prepared for any thing at any time. Even we forget and become complacent as in the recent fire close to our area. Making changes in our lifestyle and surroundings, less is way more.

        It pushed me to set up what are an absolute must have items, clothing for both seasons in a jumbo tote with a snap seal(Costco-black with yellow lid). Other items are in the totes I had set up earlier in the year but discovered we required more to cover all the needs which to function normally, or at least somewhat normal. Amazing what it takes to function in todays society, even more so when you have certain requirements.

    3. Antique Collector and ALL

      Antique has a lot of great advice on these two post;
      I would like to add one or two.
      Remember the Insurance Adjuster works for the Insurance Company. Think about that for a few seconds, you will need to absolutely prove that you had this or that, Hence the Video and Photos WITH Time/Date stamps on them. Also the Adjuster will try to put value on some antiques and other relics’, they WILL underprice them every time. Get an appraisal on Jeweler before a catastrophe. Do note; most policies will NOT cover Jeweler, Firearms or other stuff without a “special rider”. Read your Policy

      As far as the Structure, I will guarantee ya the ‘Adjuster will undercut the first, second, and third offer to rebuild your home. I would GREATLY suggest you find a contractor or two that will price the rebuild BEFORE you demo the old home, and is willing to go to battle for you against the Adjuster and Insurance Co. I have seen it dozens of times if not hundreds that as soon as an Adjuster sees 2 or more quotes the War begins. And 90% of the time the Client wins.

      Another thing, if you have a home that was built before 1978 you need to have the structure tested for Asbestos and Lead Pain. If either is present the cleanup will be approximately 10 fold the ‘normal’ cost.

      Last thing I will add, do NOT sign off on a payment before the rebuild or payoff is final. I have seen clients accept a “payment” and the fine print stated that “Upon receipt the Claim is finalized”. If you “cash the check” that’s it, all she wrote.

      1. NRP-We just bought our house earlier this year and our agent had all sorts of fits when he saw what it was–we bought a 147 year old house and because of the age and all of the fireplaces/wood stoves on the property we couldn’t find a carrier at first-no one wanted to touch it. Got it sorted out but we have a long list of exclusions attached to our policy sigh….
        And yep-it’s full of lead/asbestos, sucks to know that it would cost more to demo.
        And good to know about signing too early-thanks for the heads up!
        We don’t have pictures of the contents of our house-need to do that asap and get them tucked away somewhere off site. Might be my big project next week!

        1. Svzee
          Dh wanted to know if you purchased the house in CA? Said I had no idea. Here is the information he passed onto me about what you should had disclosed about the home.
          When you purchased the house did the seller or your representative tell you & your dh that it has hazardous materials in/on the home? If said home was in CA, they were to disclose this to you. Did you have an inspection on the house? If all of these failed to tell you this information they are in deep kimchi. You are looking at remuneration for this failure, thought you might like to know.

          If you are in another state you may wish to check the laws on homes being sold with hazardous materials and no discloser to the purchaser. Just a idea.

      2. Let me also add in that MANY times the Insurance company becomes “the Contractor” and it is the Insurance company that holds the purse and the purse strings. They can decide what will be rebuilt (usually on the old foundation). You don’t get a settlement check to build elsewhere.

        As the distraught homeowner with the valid claim for fire damage/destruction, you are also not given a settlement check to do as you wish with the replacement building. The Insurance company viewpoint is for ‘replacement’ not ‘instead of’, and they will do the payouts. Every cost will go through the insurance company because they want to act as a “Contractor.” It is as NRP is stating — If you need explanations of this arrangement call your own agent with a list of very specific questions and ask questions. Give ‘what if’ scenarios if that works for you. Make the agent explain how their company operates.

        Be sure that you have “fire insurance” in your HOI. Make sure that you have living expenses covered while you are displaced. This includes hotel/motel/apartment, and meals, depending on the length of time and the arrangements you need to make. An apartment rental will have a kitchen so you would not be given a per diem, but a hotel/motel rental without kitchen amenities means you should be given an allowance for meals. Find out how long this coverage would last.

    4. AC-thanks for the insight!
      Because of the location our property is worth more than our house, so in a total loss we’d have to do some serious thinking-it might be in our interest to just cut our loss and sell the property at a premium and move on.
      Comments today are giving me a lot to think about, need to pull up our policy and see what we have, and then get to taking some pictures asap!

      1. Svzee, read my comment above and then call your insurance company and run this scenario by them. I’ll wager they won’t give a ‘pay out’ for total loss of your dwelling, even if your home is burned to the ground. To walk away, you would lose whatever your home was worth and only have land to sell. From what I have seen, land that has had a total-loss house fire is sold at a decreased value, unfortunately.

      2. In addition to your comment, no one enjoys looking into their insurance policies. Rarely do they give you all the details. You must ask for the policy itself to discover how you’re really covered.

        Don’t trust what they say on the phone. Get them to send you hard copy of the entire policy coverage…

        Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes during the conversation.

  11. My heart aches for all those affected by these fires, I have been seeing coverage on the tv. SO many homes and buisness’ are being destroyed. I’m so sorry and I pray for each and everyone that is affected by them stay safe and calm.

    As for us here (Ky) we have never had to deal with the fires personally. but when Gatlinburg was on fire we could smell the smoke and see it when the wind got up. So I understand that the winds can carry the fire and smell quite far.
    With personal papers and things we don’t want destroyed we have 2 fire safes that we keep firearms and medicines in. We place most of the personal papers in those. The manufacture’s of these safes Guarantee them, so much as if they are in a fire they seal themselves, then send you another for free. Then we also have another box off site and keep copies in there also. As far as the property pictures goes, we take pictures, keep on cd, on a flash drive and also give pictures to our agent ( small insurance company) to keep in our property file.

    1. Jan
      Keep originals in areas away from the home, and the copies at the house where you currently reside. Guns, I will leave that up to you, but the cost of replacement of our birth certificates, pink slips vehicles, other documents adds up quickly. The hoops one has to jump through get replacements is also discouraging at times especially if you are living in one state and have to deal with another.

  12. I feel bad for all who lost there homes, I really do. It’s heartbreaking! However, when I look at the before and after pictures, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see these homes all had flamable landscaping, plus the homes are almost touching each other. Then look at the surrounding brush and trees, I sure wouldn’t want a home there. Knowing how other fires have hit California in the past you would think people wouldn’t be so complacent in thinking their safe. I experienced Santa Anna winds when I was in Colorado. There nothing to play with when it comes to pushing a fire. At the least if I could afford one of these mini mansions, I would have secondary storage set up for my preps just in case. Makes sense? Again, I feel bad for those who lost their homes but you know what, their going to rebuild in the same areas and 5-10 years from now it’s going to be a tinderbox again. I’m not being snarky here, just honest in my assessment.

    1. Yes, secondary storage is a hedge against “all eggs in one basket”. Additionally, knowing that you live in an area that is susceptible to fire each year, it would be be a good idea to take a look at your insurance coverage. Unfortunately most people suffer from normalcy bias and think that it will “never happen to me”. Or more likely they don’t think about it at all…

  13. When my parents’ home was burned in 2003 by the Cedar Fire in So Ca, their home was in the Cuyamaca Mountains and built by someone that lived construction for well over 45 years, my Father. The home was Fire-proof Stucco, Clay tile roof, with fire doors and fire shutters. They had a 2000 gallon Tank for fire fighters, and was one of the best built homes you’ll ever see.

    They left a day before the fires hit their area, and took a LOT of stuff with. When they returned 2 weeks later, I was told it literally look like the house exploded. The fire was so intense the home was scattered for hundreds of feet in all directions, much like a Tornado would, and the fire was so hot it melted steel support beans for the Ground Level floor.

    Fires like the ones in CA are devastating, I have seen photos of the Parents home, or what was left, I cannot imagine the shock these people will see when they return to their homes and businesses to find nothing but ash. Parents never rebuilt, they just walked away, the land sits empty to this day.

    Words cannot tell the sorrow I feel for all those in the past couple of months that have lost everything from the Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Fires, and much more….. It truly seems we, all around the world, are under attack from Ma-Nature….. What’s even more sad or stupid is the intentional actions of people against people we are seeing and will see.

    Makes me want to just cry or SCREAM “Stop It”.

    1. Yeah, NRP, I’m from the area you escaped from and the Cedar Fire was a bad
      one. And several before that and I can’t remember the date – maybe 70’s or 80’s
      when you couldn’t keep ash off the tables with the doors closed in a restaurant
      I worked at the time just half a mile from the bay downtown.

      While driving to Descanso this past week with a friend she asked wouldn’t
      I like to live in the mountains and I had no hesitation when answering no. Dry
      most of the time, little rain and if I remember the Cedar Fire, several were trapped
      and couldn’t get out and were either killed or seriously burned on the back roads.
      Couldn’t move fast enough to escape.

      I heard that the fires in northern California were burning the equivalent of one
      football field every 3 seconds. I’m staying closer to the city till I can relocate to
      Arizona probably because of the lower cost of living. Even though I love the
      weather here.

      You can’t outrun a Santa Ana wind. Even though I personally like them. They are
      nothing but fuel to fires.

    2. Hey NRP,
      Dumb question here…if their house had all those protections, how did it burn? I must be missing something. I’m planning a retirement house now with many of those same features (although surely not in CA). Were they too close to other structures? Just want to know if it is a waste of money to use those features…

      1. Intense enough heat and most stuff will burn. British ship in the Falklands was hit by an Exocet missile had an aluminum topsides. It burned like a torch.

  14. The worst part for me is the animals/livestock that couldn’t be evacuated. I’m in the Sacramento region and the Facebook posts that we saw that were asking for horse trailers in Santa Rosa literally broke our hearts! I can’t imagine having to evacuate livestock at a moments notice, I guess there’s a lesson in prepping to be learned, unfortunately.

    And what is the right answer there? Move them somewhere safe? Bring them in from the pastures for easier round up? I’ve never had livestock in great numbers or had to deal with a fire so close so forgive my ignorance in this matter.

    1. Rob
      The first fire dh could only open the gate to let the jackass out of his en-closer, we did not own a trailer then. He was wise(born wild-rescue)took off running found him a few days later behind our large subdivision. A lot animals ended at major ranch the east of us, that is where a friend picked him up after the all clear was given to return home. The cattle we could not remove in time, but their pastures were all eaten down, so the only thing that could burn was cattle chips. Water was hauled in by the fire dept & they fed the livestock out of our barn(fire chief was/is a friend).
      We had minutes to pack and leave.

  15. Seems like it has been one disaster after another since the eclipse took place. (Historically a bad omen…) BTW, my family saw totality in Tennessee, and it was amazing!

    1. Cat6

      “One disaster after another” what an understatement….

      Sure makes one wonder whats next? 😯

  16. How do you prepare when you live in that area?
    No water, dry conditions most of the time, brush and scrub trees all over?
    This is not the first brush fire in that area.
    Folks live in flood planes year after year.
    They get floods, they rebuild in the same place, and get more floods.
    Same, same
    Sorry for the loses, but—

    1. Indeed. That’s why it is so impotant to understand the risks in your own geographical region, and then do something about it. Most though figure that it won’t happen on their watch.

  17. For those folks thinking about buying a gun safe/regular safe to store valuables in, spend the extra money to have lined with Fire Clay. Mine is rated to over 2000 degreesF. Another option is off-site storage of valuables/documents is a safe-deposit box at your bank, credit union, or savings&loan. As a SoCal native, I was always prepped for the worse, be it fire, earthquake, riot, etc. Even though I no longer live in “The Golden State”, I still carry paper maps in my car, survival gear, cash, and the gas tank gets filled when it reaches the half-way mark. Proverbs 27:12.

    1. Folks, be careful of a safety deposit box. I have seen many posts here say a safety deposit box is a good off sight location, I don’t think so.. A bank in a town we used to live in burned down, the area was secured with no entry. All deposit boxes were moved to other banks in the chain–owners were not told where. Bank took their own sweet time identfying who owned what box and notifying the owner where they could get their box, with proper identification and keys, of course. Some people didn’t get their boxes back for over a year.

      In a grid down situation all banks will be closed with no access to anything inside. If the owner of the box dies, no one else may enter the box without some type of witness who records the contents for IRS. Best to have a second person as a signer with you who does have access without witnesses. In the case of hubby and wife, joint, perhaps a third person, a trusted child, trusted sibling or very trusted friend. For us, we just don’t have safety deposit boxes. We use fire safes, which would go into vehicles before photos and after guns.

      Have photoed all rooms and sent a zip drive to each kid, also put one in the bottom of the firebox and the glove compartment of each vehicle and in the bottom of a zippered compartment in my purse. I also have all photos stored to the iCloud. Better too many than not enough.

      Give it a lot of thought as to where to store things of importance, They have to be easily accessible AT ALL TIMES.

      1. Very true. My bad. If the POTUS ever declared a bank holiday, you would be hard-pressed to get whatever needful documents you had secured in a SDB. I got rid of mine years ago. I only suggested this for folks looking for a temporary solution. Another option, if you cannot afford a decent safe, would be a do-it-yourself PVC “capsule” buried on your property in a secure way, which would keep needful things safe, dry, and available. There are several videos on You Tube and survivalist books which would tell one how to go about this.

        1. @Dweezil The Weasel: Please don’t read my comment as criticism, I was only pointing out my opinion and should have more carefully pointed that out. Many folks here were mantioning SDB’s not just yourself–you were just the “lucky one” I tagged to send out my comment under.😟

          We just purchased a second fire safe, paid less for it than a year’s cost of the SDB at the local back. It’s not the largest but can’t carry a large one, they are too heavy. We load them whenever we travel away from home, car or coach.

          Please everyone, give this careful consideration then move forward with YOUR decision.

        2. Many of us have one of those food saver vacuum sealing machines. Perhaps NOW might be a good time to secure copies of important papers such as birth certificates, titles, etc.
          Scan them so there will be a digital copy, then take the paper copies, seal them up in a food saver bag, then put the bag into a protective case or box, then bury in a secured or secret place on your property. This way, fires = storms + civil unrest + bank holiday + etc. mean you can STILL get your hands on the important papers

  18. I have three go-bags ready at all times. The one aspect I’ve been lazy on is not having IDs and important documents copied and laminated.

  19. It is so sad seeing the devistation from the fires in California. So much tragedy lately. I only lived there a year in my youth. I cried when we left Texas but was sad to leave California behind. Spent time traveling to the mountains and lakes after school and on weekends. Absolutely beautiful. Troubled times for many. Stay safe!!

  20. I did see a comment on a local FB post concerning Rockport and the hurricane damage that made me think “good advice”. She said (paraphrasing) not to depend on the Government, Red Cross or FEMA for help and to start prepping. Solid advice. There are some still living in tents and not able to get assistance. I sure hope some eyes were opened. Sorry for rambling, it has just been on my mind since I read it.

    1. That’s right… to ‘depend’ on .gov or others (rather than depending on one’s self) is foolish. It’s great to have backup but it’s not so great to ‘depend’ on it being there.

  21. I fought fire in the area I eventually bought my first home in California. My house had stucco walls and red clay tile roof. In the 11 years I owned it, it survived 2 burns that went through town. Landscaping closest to the house was succulents like ice plant. As Murphy’s law dictates, the fires came through while I was at work. My house survived with a bit of fore-planning ( fires will come and go.) and by the Grace of God.

    It sucks to live in fear. I cannot get cocky or arrogant considering my present home is close to an active volcano and the largest Metro Area near me is known as “The City of Bridges”.

    Best wishes and prayers to those affected in California. My wife’s asthma was a major reason for leaving the fire prone region of California. If we were not being affected directly by fire, my wife’s lungs were constantly seizing up with smoke blowing in from elsewhere in the state.

    Whether or not people lost nothing or lost everything, this event will generate more people making major life changes to include Prepping as a lifestyle. What seemed far-flung a week ago slapped people in the face real hard this past week. Maybe people will stop poking fun at us and our pyramids of booze, canned food and TP.

  22. Occurred to me recently how fires could possibly be used against our cities as well. Wreaking devastation, and causing chaos, and being practically unstoppable. Causing evacuation of cities. Unfortunately could occur across the country simultaneously. Don’t want to share the exact idea lest it inspire a pyromaniac. But we could be in serious trouble!

  23. So many interesting comments. Let me add a few.

    Lots of stuff will burn if it gets hot enough. A blow torch gets super hot because of the high pressure oxygen blowing on it. The “central” California fires are having a wind blowing on them which makes them hotter. During the Falklands war a British ship was hit by an Exocet missile. It had a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure. The aluminum burned like a torch.

    On the fire safe boxes. At least one of them has been recovered in the fires and it failed.

    On the Redwoods, they are majestic. The tallest found is over 379 feet and still growing. Also a very fire resistant tree. No resin in the bark which makes them difficult to ignite. The trunk is a huge column of wood which is full of water. Hard to burn unless it is dried out. We do use seasoned redwood in our woodstove. If you cut down a tree you get numerous new ones growing out of the stump. A hit by lightning will catch one on fire but they tend to self extinguish and the fire doesn’t spread to nearby redwoods. Up here in NorCal (northern California) working in the woods is a major industry. Somebody came up with a bumper sticker that says, EARTH FIRST, we’ll log the other planets later. I’d estimate 60% of the trees on our property are redwoods with most of the rest being alders and cedars. My area was clear-cut about 80 years ago and my trees have grown from the stumps. Many of them are over a 100 feet tall.

    Back to NorCal, California is close to 900 miles from it’s northern border to the southern border.
    We’re getting calls from concerned friends about the fires in “northern” California. We’re over 300 miles from them. I like to make the distinction as attitudes up here are much different from those in the rest of California. Our push to become the state of Jefferson is testimony to that. Personally, I tripled my wage when I moved here and with in a year it had quadrupled. Our most recent fire up this way was east of Brookings, Oregon. It started in the last part of July, consumed over 190,000 acres and is only now mostly contained (97%). The fires in central California have burned over 190,000 acres in less than four days!

  24. May the Lord give strength and grace to you folks that are affected by the fires in CA. I’m praying for you and am very sorry for your loss. CR

  25. Some sad stories emerging from the aftermath:

    Bodies being identified via serial numbers on medical hardware ( hip replacement hardware ) and stories of couples jumping in swimming pools for refuge and one of the party passing due to smoke inhalation. (Source: KQED public radio out of San Francisco). A picture is emerging of those caught in the fire having physical limitations which prevented them from evacuating/ bugging out or even clearing brush and flammable materials from around their homes.

    Thanks to the posters talking about dealing with the insurance companies after the burn. I have never had to deal with total loss yet. ( and I hope never have to do.) This fire also reminded me why I moved from a fire prone region : It gets old living there after a while – cutting brush and planting ice plant in 100 degree weather, My wife wheezing during a smoky day. My wife wanted to leave for a long time before we actually relocated to a climate with better air quality and more rain and snow.

    I hope others out there are able to survive and ( if needed) relocate to a location where you can breathe a bit easier and find your peace. North section of Santa Rosa was a retirement destination for a lot of senior citizens prior to this burn. Ironically, I couldn’t afford to move there myself. ( I had to find an area 2 days drive north of Santa Rosa to resettle.)

  26. Previous comment about cities was deduced based on a comment from a different article, in which the person stated some facts about some things which have occurred in the U.S. over a number of decades. Is it possible to prevent something like that from occurring? Of course it is. The previous post was in no way intended to create anxiety. But rather, hopefully, awaken situational awareness in some. Long live the Republic.

  27. Having worked on the Mendocino County fire complex and having my home in an area where mandatory evacuations were required I found that sheltering in place was the best option. Let me first state “If you don’t have the means or time to fight a fire, or subsist longer than a few days on your own – get out and stay out!”

    However if you have prepared with defensible space, adequate water supply, water dispersion/ distribution infrastructure, adequate food/ amenities, and have time to assess the situation, with like minded neighbors in a rural setting staying put is probably your best bet.

    1. Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice
    2. Read the wind constantly!
    3. Have large fire lines/ lanes and an action plan in place
    3. Soak everything with water – yard, buildings, fences, trees, roofs, roads, self, etc.
    5. Water trucks are invaluable (your best friend besides air support)
    6. If you can sleep, do sleep in shifts, but with your boots on

    When the gov’t call for mandatory evacuation that simply means they want you to get out and once you’re out they will not let you return. No one is forced to leave. On a large fire(s) the gov’t resources are usually spread too thin to protect all individual homes/ properties for at least the first four days. Gov’t fire resources tend to attack the main fire (the big picture). I saw many instances where those sheltering in place would have lost their homes had they not stayed to fight the fire themselves.

    Again, don’t take the gov’t resources for granted, but be prepared to take care of your own, as this website/ community preaches. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thanks for your first hand experience insight regarding the fires. It’s always an individual judgment call whether or not to bug out.

      For those who are prepared, situationally aware, and able to put out countermeasures, circumstances might prove beneficial to stay put. Again though, when in doubt, get out…

      I assume that your own home and property were spared?

  28. These are obviously D.O.W. Look how the fire ignores the trees but completely obliterates the houses, even the frames are gone.

    The fire is much hotter then it should be.

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