Some call the city of Ashland a bubble where pedestrians have so much trust in their neighbors they sometimes walk out in front of traffic and where deer feel so safe from predators not even car horns can scare them to move out of the road.
But just because residents share a communal sense of security, it doesn’t mean that they’re immune to one of the area’s greatest dangers: wildfire.
Ashland citizens should always — always — be at level one (“be ready”) of the three-stage evacuation scale because there may not be time for a level two (“be set”) notice, as was the case recently as in fast-moving recent fires in Santa Rosa and Weed, California, among others, according to Ashland Fire & Rescue Community Preparedness Coordinator Terri Eubanks.
“Sometimes like in Santa Rosa, those fires moved so quickly that level two evacuations were thrown out the door,” Eubanks said. “There was just no possible way to give them a level two evacuation.”
The three levels are level one – be ready, level two – be set, and level three – go!
Level one, or be ready, means to be ready for the potential to evacuate. With Ashland in extreme fire danger right now, this is something all citizens should take very seriously, Eubanks said. With the extreme fire danger in effect now, all citizens should make sure to do the following:
• Have an evacuation plan. How do you reconnect with your family? Where do you go? Make sure to communicate with family out of state and include your pets in this plan.
• Create a disaster supplies kit.
• Stay informed and up to date on surrounding wildfires by using trusted sources.
• Become “firewise” by clearing away combustible materials from around your home, clean the gutters, sweep pine needles from the roof, remove dead or dying vegetation, etc.
• Document what is in your home in case fire damages or destroys items in your home.
Level two, or be set, means that there is significant danger in the area and relocation is advisable. Eubanks said in this level of evacuation, if you decide to stay, your car should be packed, and you should be closely monitoring local media and emergency services websites for updates on the fire. There may not be time for a level three notice if the fire moves too quickly.
Level three, or go!, means that you are in immediate danger and must evacuate. Eubanks said to leave the lights on inside your home because it helps emergency responders see inside to make sure no one is left. Close all doors and windows because the less oxygen the fire has the less it will burn. This is the best protection you can give your home at this point.
Generally, evacuation notices will come from the police and responders will go door to door, but they can’t make anyone leave who doesn’t want to.
“In the state of Oregon, we don’t do forced evacuations,” Eubanks said.
Elderly and the infirm who would need assistance evacuating are highly encouraged to register through Rogue Valley Council of Governments at rvcog.org/disaster-registry. According to RVCOG planner Connie Saldana, a map of where individuals who need assistance live is given to all 911 centers in Jackson and Josephine county and kept up-to-date.
What should be in your disaster supplies kit?
Food and water for everyone in the home, including pets; any medications taken regularly; copies of important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards and identification cards; extra clothes and first-aid supplies, to name the essentials. A fire extinguisher, NOAA hand-crank radio, N-95 masks, hygiene products, a tent and sleeping bag are also beneficial in any disaster situation. For a complete list of ideas, visit www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
“Your list could be as extensive or as condensed based on your personal needs,” Eubanks said.
Remember to include anything needed for pets and children, such as formula, diapers and toys.
“If your children are in a shelter and sitting on a cot, what can we do to help them be more resilient in the event so it’s less impactful?” Eubanks asked.
For more resources on wildfire safety, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=13511.
Listen to Ashland’s emergency broadcast station at 1700 AM for updates or call the wildfire update hotline at 541-552-2490.
Sign up at member.everbridge.net/index/1332612387832182#/login and www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=17635 to receive alerts and emergency notifications.