What if we had a forest fire here?

What if we had a forest fire here?

Dear Editor,

On July 18, between 1-3:30 p.m., at the Sheriff’s office on US 101, we had an ad hoc meeting to find out what to do if we spotted fires in the area. We started with a scenario of a small one; then things escalated to the fire jumping to a new place, thanks to wind. All the locations were rural, like along Highway 113 or off Mary Clark Road.

Most of the attendees were government employees from the county, local fire department, or La Push PD, but there were also citizens (like yours truly), including two of our trusty HAM radio operators. Some of us citizens had taken the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training by FEMA; some had not. These meetings are open to the public but unfortunately, some folks just cannot leave work at that time. So let me share a few things.

The main reason I am writing to the paper is to pass on a few quick ideas the average citizen can do (things I learned today), assuming you spot a fire in the woods while driving along any of these rural roads. Call 911, because then they alert the right people. Just give them the road and the mile marker, as best you can.

Another thing you can do is download the Code Red Mobile Alert on your cell phone app store. Another thing is you can do is get Clallam County emergency management notices from the Code Red program by texting 99411 in the address bar and for content, enter CCEM. You will get a URL link to register with the county for alerts. One they have your data, they can (in an emergency) call or text your cell phone, or call your land phone, or send you an email, depending on what information you provide. If you are like me, you are getting wary of answering strange phone numbers. So put these two in your contacts, for Code Red: 866-419-5000, or 855-969-4636. Then the calls will identify as Code Red and you will feel safe picking them up (God forbid you ever need to, of course).

Anecdotally, in our meeting, we had two teams try to answer hypotheticals about fire emergencies and then we put the results from a notetaker up on the board. It was interesting. One half of our room described how the responder agencies would deal with the emergencies. The other half determined how the CERT volunteers on the scene would reach out to the public and give warnings, assuming governments were out there fighting the fire and we were first on the scene—someone had to alert residents, campers, etc. Who ya gonna call? CERT volunteers would, of course, cede their first responder roles to the governments, as soon as government employees could be on the scene. Both perspectives were equally relevant. Good idea from our meeting: go to those yellow pages in the free phone books we all get tossed onto our porch and enter some of those government numbers on your phone to have handy, as well.

Final note: Do you have your earthquake emergency response kit at home? Gallon of water for each person/day for possibly 3-4 weeks? Stowed food and essential clothes or meds? The county has a lot of handouts on this, and Peninsula Daily News did an amazing spread on it, which Forks Forum can provide, last I heard. May we never need any of it.

Katie Krueger,

Forks resident