King Fire influences fire awareness

By Finn Thomas

Messenger Staff Writer

The King Fire only affected the air quality in Auburn, but it could have caused local neighborhoods to be evacuated.  People may have not been prepared to escape possible danger by leaving home abruptly.

Only a couple weeks ago, the King Fire started and people began to evacuate around the area it began, Pollock Pines in El Dorado County.  The fire quickly grew, and over 4000 firefighters were out fighting the fire at one point.  The fire burned 97,000 acres, and as of September 30th, ninety two percent, was contained.  Although miles away, the smoke drifted towards Auburn and other cities around, causing air quality problems. A few students at Placer Union High School District (PUSHD) were affected.

“My office is in the administrative building so I didn’t see any students go in because of the smoke, but what heard is that not many students came in.” said PUHSD nurse Karen Klayman, but when asked if any students didn’t go to school because of the air quality she said, “Yeah, they just stayed home because of the smoke.”

Students around Placer High School had trouble with their lungs when the smoke was strong on campus.

“The smell of the smoke definitely bothered me. My brother went home a few times because it was making him sick, I felt a little sick so I went home once,” Placer High School freshman Lindsey Berg said.

Other students didn’t go home, but they were still bothered while at school, even inside classrooms.

“”At first it was just bothering me, but after a couple of days it really started to hurt my throat, even when I was inside,” Samantha Voss, Placer High School Freshman stated.

Auburn Fire Department did not fight the King Fire, however there is reason for them not going.

“Placer County is broken into 2 areas for fire services, East and West. The East includes Truckee Fire, Northstar, Squaw Valley and North Tahoe. The West includes all of the others from Alta to Roseville. The West Operational Area has a mobilization plan for large incidents in the County, Neighboring County and Out of the area Counties for large incident requests, ie.. Strike Teams (5 like type engines and a Leader) like the King fire. Placer County Operational Area sent out one Type 3 (wildland engine type) Strike Team to the incident.” stated Cory Zander, Auburn Fire Fighter.

Lessons can be learned from the King Fire, for example, being prepared for a possible disaster.

“It’s a tough one,” Zander said when asked what lesson high school students should learn from this fire, “The problem is, I see it as we got kind of distracted by the King Fire, and there was a fire at Weed, so my concern is that high school students get out of school come home and then a fire is heading towards their home, and putting them at risk so the fire department comes to knock on there door and they need to evacuate but there parents may be at work. So we are going to go to schools and get them ready for when there homes and towns are at risk.”

Other firefighters had recognized this problem, and decided to put together a program that will help students be ready for a possible fire at any time.

“Auburn is in a high fire zone, where ever you go there is a risk of fire.” Zander said, “It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, a disaster can happen,” he concluded.

Berg and Voss were asked what they would do if they were home alone and the fire department came and said they needed to evacuate in a short amount of time. The answered with the following.

“I would grab my stuff, ask my brother what he wanted me to grab, and pretend that I knew how to drive,” Berg stated.

“I’d probably call my mom first,” Voss said, “I’d probably take the stuff I really needed, like food.”

As many students are generally not prepared to evacuate immediately if the were told, fire departments are creating a program called Ready Set Go!.

“Check out  The Auburn Fire Department is working on a plan to deliver this program to all of its citizens including the students at Placer High School.” Zander concluded.