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#287274 - 12/07/17 10:44 PM How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps)
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6689
Loc: southern Cal
It has not been a quiet week if you were bothered by the Thomas Fire. Monday evening we learned of a fire burning 20 miles away. By midnight the flames had reached the hill above us and it was time to leave.

We have been in our home for twenty-seven years, and on two previous occasions we have had the car packed up and ready to go. The third time was the charm and away we went. We did have about 45 minutes to load stuff, although I generally keep a fair assortment of essentials in the vehicle at all times (FAK, water, sleeping bag, etc) but we were able to augment considerably. A short drive got us out of harm's way and we spent the night in Ventura harbor, where we got a good view of at least ten miles of flame front, with 11 to 15 obvious hot spots.

not much sleep, and the next day we looked for a place for the night. Local motels were booked, and we checked out the established RC shelter. Unfortunately it was in the direct path of the smoke plume from the fire, and hence a no-go.

My BIL, whom we had contacted earlier, really came through for us and secured (paying for our room with patronage points) in nearby smoke free Camarillo - all of a sudden life was pretty decent again.

Checking back the next day, access to our street was blocked, although fortunately we were only half a block from the barricade, and could access our still standing house. We visited regularly that day and the next, securing a few more goodies. By Wednesday afternoon the barricdes were down and we returned Thursday morning. Cleanup will be necessary.

What worked:

ETS!! I have participated in discussion on this forum since 1906 and it really pays off, thanks to the sensible strategies and techniques espoused here, as well as the productive forum discussions. Thank you all....

Organized gear - I could have gotten into the car and driven away without loading a thing and we would have survived. We did know where critical items were located that made the experience more enjoyable.

A dependable head lamp. Our power went out two hours before the fire arrived and my zebralight was invaluable - good runtime and variable brightness levels. There are other good brands as well.

Helpful relative - lots of support and morale boosting

Keeping the gas tank at least half full

Having (and discussing) a plan. After Sonoma, I thought it just might be our time in the barrel (I was right!)

charged and working cell phones - Despite the conflagration, we had very dependable service althoug the towers should have been in the fire.

spousal team work - we were stressed, but we worked out problems and situations rationally and our relationship is stronger for it. Realize you and your spouse will be stressed. Make preparations and allowances.

Sleep prepared. I have started sleeping with my EDC key ring, which includes a light and small multitool. When the alarm comes and the power is out, a handy flashlight is invaluable

PPE - gloves, face masks, head protection make a huge difference. You need to avoid injury at all costs.

Pets - We evacuated with our elderly cat, who was quite a hassle. Mrs. Hikermor would comfort her when she was dazed and confused. It was obvious that comfort was a two way street. The comforter (usually my wife) got just as much benefit from the experience as did our kitty. I have seen and experienced the same thing in my SAR ops.

What didn't work:

Our local CERT - haven't heard a peep from them. I know they have my info, but they apparently haven't been activated.???

Guns and ammo - just dead weight. I did carry away my S&W Mod 27, more for sentimental value than anything else, but it wasn't even close to being needed

An electrical outage is a profound problem. I had a solar rig, which didn't come into play, but it would have worked to keep the cell phones and small items running - rechargeable batteries rock.

That's the news from here, for now. Comments and questions welcome...

Edited by hikermor (12/07/17 10:45 PM)
Geezer in Chief

#287275 - 12/07/17 10:53 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
Phaedrus Offline

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2189
Loc: Great Plains
Wow! I'm glad you emerged unscathed! The fire situation in California is quite scary right now.
ďYou can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.Ē Naguib Mahfouz

#287278 - 12/08/17 12:21 AM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1124
Loc: Alaska
Glad to hear you and family are OK, and your home survived. The news from California has been scary and tragic of late.
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

#287280 - 12/08/17 02:15 AM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1445
Loc: North Carolina
Good to know you are OK. Preparing does pay.

#287281 - 12/08/17 03:58 AM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1540
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
glad you are ok and thanks for the report... in response to your comment about your solar charging system, and the desire to keep your cell and communications up... two major changes to my tropical storm preparations after the short power outage from Irma...(1) the utility I received from a relative small portable 2kW inverter generator, and (2) the ability to charge multiple NiMH cells with 8 charging slots running off a common power strip when running the generator... my decision to standardize to AA Eneloop cells after the 2004 season was validated, and the positive experience with how well the small inverter generator worked this last season places it high on the "needed" list

#287284 - 12/08/17 01:10 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3600
Loc: Ontario, Canada
So glad you're ok. from Cali is scary right now. Stay safe, my friend!
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#287285 - 12/08/17 01:56 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3004
Loc: USA
Good share. Stay safe.

#287286 - 12/08/17 05:28 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
Comanche7 Offline

Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 435
Loc: Florida

Great sitrep, glad you and yours are doing well and thanks for providing another great validation for fixing the roof when it's not raining!

#287288 - 12/08/17 06:50 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: hikermor]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4984
Thanks, good to hear your evac went well and youíre already back. The truck is in good shape, fuel at 3/4 tank.

Iím now in the early stages of packing the truck. Because I canít take it all, Iím having to make hard decisions on what is critical, nice to have or not necessary (but Iíll miss it). But itís better to make those choices before a fire bearing down makes the decision for you. I should be done by now, but what I really need is a bigger truck.

#287290 - 12/08/17 08:41 PM Re: How to Flee the Fire (in ten easy steps) [Re: Russ]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6689
Loc: southern Cal
It will be interesting to review decisions made under stress - I am doing that right now. I realize that while I retrieved some items of sentimental value, I left a really important one behind - the Nambu pistol liberated by my father in WWII. Stress will do that to you....
Geezer in Chief

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