How to prepare for and react to a wildfire evacuation

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A firefighter watches the Apple Fire in Cherry Valley, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. A wildfire northwest of Palm Springs flared up Saturday afternoon, prompting authorities to issue new evacuation orders as firefighters fought the blaze in triple-degree heat.(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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DENVER (KDVR) – Are you prepared for a wildfire evacuation? While large fires tend to exist in the forests and wooded areas of Colorado, we’ve seen evacuations as close to Denver as Highlands Ranch.

In the case of the Douglas County fire from June, residents of the evacuated buildings had very little time to react between when the flames began and when they were told to get out. However, in cases like the Grizzly Creek or Williams Fork fires, sometimes people have several days between when a fire is sparked and when it gets close enough to force an evacuation.

According to a website run by the Grand County Wildfire Council, the most important thing is to have an emergency supply kit and evacuation bag ready to go. This will allow you to get out of a home in a matter of minutes and can be the difference between life and death in a fast-moving fire.

The kit should contain face coverings, enough water and food to last for three days, a map with at least two evacuation routes, a first aid kit, prescription drugs, and extra clothes. If time allows grabbing easily carried valuables and family photos or other irreplaceable items will help relieve the burden if your home is destroyed.

It’s also important to have a wildfire action plan. This includes having a meeting place if people aren’t together when the evacuation order is issued, a place to stay if the evacuation lasts overnight and a list of who to contact as personal needs arise and where to find update information about evacuation orders.

CalFire, which runs a website called in partnership with the US Fire Service, has additional recommendations if you live in an area under a pre-evacuation order:

  • Close all windows and doors but leave them unlocked for quick access
  • Shut off natural gas and propane service
  • Remove lightweight or flammable window shades and curtains
  • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your home in the smoke or after dark
  • Put your supply kit in a vehicle so you can leave quickly when ordered to

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