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Australian Wildfires Have Lessons for San Diego

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

 

Diego Fire Chiefs say this month’s wild fires in Australia teach a sobering lesson to Californians: If fire threatens your home, leave promptly.

The confirmed death toll in Australia is now almost 200 people.

KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

 

The tragic loss of life in the fires that burned near Melbourne, Australia has rekindled the debate over whether it’s better to evacuate early or stay and defend your home.

 

Five firefighting agencies responsible for defending San Diego against wildfire have joined together to deliver a message: they want San Diegans to “Leave Early.”

 

Nick Schuler is a captain with Cal Fire, that coordinates fire protection in San Diego County.

Schuler : " What people have to realize is this:  is your property worth dying for? If you look at the things that happened in Australia or that we’ve seen happening here in California, no property is worth losing a family member or your life for."

 

Schuler says a few communities have specific “shelter in place” plans. But for everyone else, he says, there is not enough defensible space around their homes to make that a feasible option. 

 

The important thing, Schuler says, is to make an evacuation plan with lists of what you want to take with you, so if fire threatens your home, you can leave fast.

 

Alison St John, KPBS news.

 

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