Cambria’s Fire Safe Fair brought out visitors curious about everything from fire extinguishers to forest safety to evacuation procedures Thursday, May 5, in the Santa Rosa Catholic Church parking lot on Main Street.
Held in conjunction with Cal Fire’s Wildfire Awareness Week and a training exercise that drew firefighters from across San Luis Obispo County, as well as some from Santa Barbara County, the fair aimed to educate Cambria residents about a variety of safety issues.
“We’ve been working with the Fire Safe Focus Group who put this together, and they’ve done just an amazing job of community outreach,” said county Supervisor Bruce Gibson. “It takes that sense of community to strategize and implement solutions. We’ve got years of work ahead dealing with tree mortality, so I’m just grateful we’ve got people coming together to craft solutions.”
Organizer Barbara Bronson Gray of the Cambria Community Healthcare District board estimated that it took a couple of months to plan the fair, which included about 20 displays from a variety of groups.
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Bruce Fosdike, a retired Cal Fire firefighter/trainer who serves on the North Coast Advisory Council, was talking to eventgoers about “go buckets,” which residents could load with supplies and have on hand in the event of an evacuation.
The buckets, Fosdike said, have an edge on “go bags” because they also can be used to carry water.
“We want people to be ready for three days — 72 hours,” he said. “If you need to leave, you’ve got everything you need.”
He suggested including such items as beef jerky, candy, pet food, peanut butter, toilet paper, a bungee cord, tape, a toothbrush, eating utensils and a 2.5-gallon plastic water container. And don’t forget your computer — in the form of a flash drive tied to the handle of the bucket.
“My life is on this thing, and it’s attached there,” Fosdike said.
Fosdike advised coming up with three plans for what to take with you during an evacuation: One that allows 30 minutes to get ready, a second that allows 20 minutes and a third that leaves just 10 minutes to be up and out of the house.
We’ve got years of work ahead dealing with tree mortality, so I’m just grateful we’ve got people coming together to craft solutions.
Bruce Gibson, SLO County supervisor
A couple of booths over, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey was telling visitors about the effects of climate change on the fire danger. Current models call for a 300 percent increase in wildfire frequency by 2050, he said, and temperatures are expected to rise 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
“That correlates really well with increased fires,” Lindsey said. “The hotter it is, the drier it is, the greater the likelihood of more fires.”
Across the aisle, Cody Casteel was inspecting fire extinguishers and recharging them for free — a service the company he works for, Mid-Coast Fire Protection, normally provides for $25. The Mid-Coast booth was one of the most popular at the fair, with people lined up to have their extinguishers tested as it got underway at 10 a.m.
“I was very busy this morning,” Casteel said, estimating about 40 people had come by to have tests done by noon.
One visitor brought by a 1994 fire extinguisher. Casteel’s advice: “It will work if you pull the pin — something will come out — but I wouldn’t really rely on it to put out a fire.”
Other groups with displays included Cal Fire, Cambria’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Red Cross — which spoke to visitors about what to expect if they have to spend the night in an evacuation shelter — Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, the Cambria Forest Committee and the sponsoring Fire Safe Focus Group.
Sheriff’s Posse representative Bob Thomson rode the grounds on his 12-year-old horse, Dux, and Pacific Coast Lumber owner Sean O’Brien showed off a large wooden structure made of roughly 97 percent wood from Monterey pines.
“We actually got the logs from Cal Fire, and we milled them into siding, and the framing and put it all together,” O’Brien said. “We milled it two weeks ago, and then we put it all together in about three days. By making something durable out of the pine, it’s sequestering the carbon from getting into the atmosphere.”