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Fire Season Information
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Definitions of Fire Terms

Shelter in Place means a person should go indoors and shut and lock all doors and windows.  Prepare to self-sustain until further notice and / or you are contacted by emergency personnel providing additional direction.

An evacuation warning means there is a potential threat to life and / or property.  Those who require additional time to evacuate and those with pets / livestock should leave now.

An Evacuation Order means there is immediate threat to life.  This is a lawful order to leave now.  The area is lawfully closed to public access.

Evacuation Order Lifted is the term used to formally announce lifting evacuations in an area currently under evacuation.

Hard Closure means roads are closed to all traffic except fire and law enforcement.

Soft Closure means roads are closed to all traffic except fire, law enforcement and critical incident resources (i.e. utility workers, Caltrans, city / county roads, etc. and those other workers needing to repair or restore infrastructure).

Resident Only Closure is a soft closure with additional allowances of residents and local government agencies assisting with response and recovery.

The principle of evacuation is to move citizens from a place of relative danger to a place of relative safety, via a route that does not pose significant danger. Below is an explanation to common legal concerns during these circumstances.

According to Penal Code Section 409.5 (c), any unauthorized person who willfully and knowingly enters an area closed pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) and who willfully remains within the area after receiving notice to evacuate or leave shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.  This misdemeanor occurs only if a person both enters a closed disaster area knowing it to be closed and subsequently refuses to leave when ordered to do so.

No crime is committed by a person occupying his or her home prior to the closing of the area and subsequently refuses to leave when ordered to do so.

While it is evident that PC 409.5 contains the authority to dissuade persons from entering an area designated as an emergency area, it cannot be used to mandate persons into leaving their residence. The overriding concern of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office is the safety of its citizens in the unincorporated areas.

If you are evacuated.....

Remain calm

  • Follow instructions from Deputy Sheriff's and Fire Officers.
  • Turn off all appliances.
  • Close doors and windows.
  • Lock your house.
  • Stay clear of emergency vehicles.

What to take

  • Your keys.
  • Family pets.
  • Medications currently using.
  • Valuable papers.

When You're Safe

  • Call your relatives after evacuation.
  • Necessary support, resources and subsistence will be provided at the shelters designated for evacuation.

 

Fire Season Questions

What should I take with me if I need to evacuate?

Identification, money, credit cards, checkbooks, insurance records, medications and any other important documents. Personal hygiene items, heavy bedding and clothing to be used as protection. Clothing: Avoid polyesters, rayons, and other flammable material. Cotton is best. Cell phone, portable radio, flashlight; and, if practical, jewelry and other valuables. One gallon or more of drinking water per person per day, food that will not spoil, and a shovel. The most important thing is to get yourself and your family out of danger as quickly as possible.

What do I do if I become trapped in a vehicle?

Don't panic, think before you act, park in an area with the least amount of flammable vegetation. Park on the opposite side of the road from the approaching fire, don't block the road. Avoid sharp switchbacks; they generally indicate a dangerous chimney. Stay in your vehicle with motor running at moderate RPM, air conditioner on, windows closed. Put blankets or heavy clothing against windows especially on the side in which the fired is approaching. Cover yourself with heavy material for protection against heat. Don't leave your vehicle until the fire has passed over.

What do I do if I become trapped while on foot?

Go to an area with the least amount of vegetation, such as a stream, Creek, lake or pond, rock Out-Cropping, grazed off areas, logging deck or clear cut area rather than brush. Take advantage of trees, rocks, and low lying areas to shield yourself from the heat. Cover all exposed skin. A shovel held in front of your face may help shield heat. If you have time, try to clear an area around you of grass and flammables. Stay close to the ground while protecting your face, especially your mouth and nose; place a DRY cloth over your mouth and nose to provide some protection to your respiratory system. Fire burns quickly uphill, run laterally or downhill to escape. Run to blackened area; run until completely out of the fire. Once out of the fire, extinguish burning clothing by removing or rolling on the ground.

What do I do when I get to an assembly area?

Remain calm and Wait for instruction from fire or law enforcement officials. Conditions in the assembly area may seem extreme, but will be better than the surrounding areas. Remember to drive safely with the headlights on, watch for fire equipment and other evacuees, expect smokey conditions, which may obscure your vision and breathing. When the fire gets close to the assembly area you will notice increased winds, heavy Smoke and Swirling firebrands. Remain calm, stay in place, talk to and encourage others. Be prepared to put out all spot fires within the assembly area.

How can I protect my home from a wildfire?

Have a minimum of 100' or more clearance around your home, as the law requires. Close all doors and windows (inside and out). Turn off gas or propane, move all flammables away from windows. Leave power to water pump on. Remove flammables from exterior of house. Cover structural openings, windows and vents with plywood. Place a ladder against the roof for quick access. Connect all garden hoses. Wet down roof and exterior of home, if time permits. Leave a note in your home telling where and how you can be located.