The Cambrian

San Luis Obispo County to proclaim July as Cambria Fire Awareness Month

Bruce Fosdike hands out preparedness information at a fire safety fair in May at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in Cambria.
Bruce Fosdike hands out preparedness information at a fire safety fair in May at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in Cambria.

San Luis Obispo County supervisors soon will proclaim July 2016 as “Cambria Fire Awareness Month.” The action will be part of the board’s June 21 meeting.

The action, prompted by the Cambria Fire Safe Focus Group, is tentatively scheduled for about 1:30 p.m. in the after-lunch period of the meeting held in the supervisors’ chambers, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

With an ever-increasing number of dead and dying trees in the 3,200-acre native stand of aging, iconic and rare Monterey pines, Focus Group officials are once again putting the spotlight on residents being fully prepared for the possibility of forest fires.

The supervisors’ declaration notes that “because of the drought, an average 70 percent of Cambria’s pine forest is dead or dying,” which adds impetus to the necessity of preparation.

Other areas of the state also have experienced dramatic die-off of the trees, especially in the Southern Sierra. But Cambria’s situation, with so many homes built among the trees, is particularly serious, according to Planning Commissioner Ken Topping, a member of the Focus Group.

Group members encourage residents to band together with neighbors to plan “block parties” in July, to plot out evacuation plans they’d use in case of fire or other emergency.

Sample lists for those parties are available from Robert Kelley, 927-3407, and Bruce Fosdike, 924-1930, co-chairs of the block party committee.

Group members and other volunteers also will host a fire-awareness-month booth at Cambria’s July 4th celebration at Shamel Park. They’ll have the lists and other how-to information on hand, and will stress the urgency of obeying the ban on possessing or using any personal fireworks on the North Coast.

Other entities also are taking note and preparing for wildfire season in ways that seem tailor-made for Cambrians.

For instance, recent PG&E bills included return envelopes with the printed warning “Dead trees = Increased wildfire risk. Drought and bark beetles are a safety hazard.”

Red Cross event June 25

Red Cross officials need volunteers to help them in selected Cambria neighborhoods from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 25, on a special “Preparedness Canvassing Event.”

Potential volunteers should contact Sara Northrop, Red Cross preparedness manager, at, by June 21.

Various teams of two volunteers will go door-to-door, distributing educational packets to all residents. The packets will include a variety of information on wildfires, escape plans, preparedness kits and more.

Lunch and water will be provided for the volunteers.

“We figured instead of trying to get residents to come out to a presentation, we’ll go directly to the residents,” Northrop said in an email to Shirley Bianchi, chairwoman of the Cambria Fire Safe Focus Group.

Depending on the number of volunteers who sign up and go through a half-hour orientation that morning, targeted neighborhoods could include those areas that were the focus of a recent drill held in Cambria for about a hundred firefighters.