Shock Videos from California: Wildfire Evacuation as a Small Town Burns to the Ground
However prepared you think you are for an emergency wildfire evacuation, when it looks like you’re driving through the outer edges of Hell, it’s going to be a scary ride.
Wildfires are a real threat every year in California, but this season seems to be especially dramatic and uncontrollable. Chalk it up to the severe drought that has caused the grass and trees to become well-seasoned fuel for the fires.
One particular fire rages out of control in Lake County, just north of the famous Napa Valley, putting thousands of acres of vineyards on the outskirts of the inferno.
That is far from the worst of it, though. Over the weekend, the tiny burg of Middletown, California was burned off the map. The flames moved so quickly that there was barely time to notify the families of the town that they had to evacuate.
When the fire hit the gas stations on the edge of town, the fuel tanks exploded, worsening the blaze. The fire traveled to the down and destroyed virtually every single building More than 1000 homes and businesses burned to the ground. Pay close attention at 1:30.
Residents literally only had minutes to evacuate as the flames approached. This was not a calm, orderly evacuation. This was families fleeing for their lives.
Do you think you are prepped to evacuate? What if you had to literally drive through a wildfire? Here’s a dose of reality. This video was shot as one family left their home for what is most likely the last time. (Some very understandable harsh language).
I know what you’re thinking: That guy waited way too long to bug out.
The thing is, this fire moved so incredibly quickly that people who bugged out within minutes of notification had a scene exactly like this. They had a soundtrack of approaching flames roaring in their ears. One minute, the fire was a plume of smoke on the horizon, and the next minute it was in their backyards.
News reports say that more than a thousand homes and businesses have been lost, and that one civilian has died in the fire. Four firefighters had to deploy their survival shelters and allow the fire to “burn over” them when they could not escape the blaze. Miraculously, they only suffered second-degree burns and are recovering in the hospital.
This is how quickly a disaster can strike. No matter how well-prepped you thought you were for a potential evacuation, if your vehicle wasn’t already loaded, you’d only have time to grab what was closest to the door in a situation like this. Some residents didn’t even have time to put on their shoes before leaving. This particular fire was fueled by drought-dried brush and pushed by 20 MPH winds, making it engulf territory faster than veteran firefighters had ever seen a blaze move. Embers propelled by the wind sparked new fires that joined the original blaze, causing even more rapid expansion.A report in the Press Democrat described the exponential growth of the fire.
Hundreds of firefighters streamed into the area to battle the blaze, which grew from 50 acres to more than 10,000 acres in the span of five hours Saturday. It doubled in size again over the next four hours, swelling to 25,000 acres by 10:25 p.m.
And this is the horrifying aftermath. An entire town, left like this.
This is not the only wildfire in California. In the Fresno area is the Rough Fire, and the Butte Fire blazes about 100 miles away in Amador and Calaveras County.
Prepping for a Wildfire Evacuation
In the event of a rapid evacuation, here are a few tips.
- Have your bug-out bags ready at all times. You may not have any warning, particularly if you live near the origin of the fire. Conditions could change rapidly, putting you in harm’s way. Always, always, have a bug-out bag ready.
- Keep swimming goggles and N95 masks in your vehicle for all family members. Swimming goggles will keep you from being blinded by dense smoke and the masks will filter the air somewhat so that you aren’t overcome by inhalation. I recommend these goggles and these masks – the kind with the valves offer you the most protection.
- Keep your vehicle full of fuel. A dire bug-out scenario is not the time to run out of gas, and you can bet that the filling stations won’t be open for business in such an event.
- If there’s time, grab the dirty clothes hamper. For the price of a trip to the laundromat, you’ll have some complete outfits, including undies.
There may not be time to grab anything. During the fire above, people left in their pajamas to escape the rapidly moving fire.
Take steps now to be calm and prepared later.
I want you to think about disasters. While it’s certainly not a pleasant thought, but considering these things now – when there’s no fire bearing down on you, no hurricane heading your way, no chemical spill poisoning your water, no pandemic in the next town over – allows you to think more clearly and make a definitive plan of action.
- Check your bug out bags.
- Organize your most precious belongings.
- Discuss the plan with your family so that everyone knows what to expect.
Make these decisions now so that when – and it’s always “when” not “if” – disaster knocks at your door, you’re prepared to respond immediately. Learn about what to expect from others in order to keep your family safe and on-plan. Human nature isn’t as much of a variable when you can predict their behavior.
Surviving a Wildfire
Surviving a wildfire begins well before the first spark. No matter where you live, a forest fire or large blaze can be a threat. Oftentimes, fires occur on the heels of another epic disaster.
As with any type of disaster, by being prepared ahead of time, you will handle a terrifying emergency in a much calmer fashion than those who have never considered the possibility of such an event.