Shock Videos from California: Wildfire Evacuation as a Small Town Burns to the Ground

TDC Note – This is why we prepare. If you are preparing for the “end of the world” you are going to overlook what will, potentially, ruin or end your life. It doesn’t make any sense to prepare for the world to end as most of us would be dead anyway, so, what would be the point? This is why we prepare. by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper

However prepared you think you are for an emergency wildfire evacuation, when it looks like you’re driving through the outer edges of Hell, it’s going to be a scary ride.

Wildfires are a real threat every year in California, but this season seems to be especially dramatic and uncontrollable. Chalk it up to the severe drought that has caused the grass and trees to become well-seasoned fuel for the fires.

Valley Fire Map

One particular fire rages out of control in Lake County, just north of the famous Napa Valley, putting thousands of acres of vineyards on the outskirts of the inferno.

That is far from the worst of it, though. Over the weekend, the tiny burg of Middletown, California was burned off the map.  The flames moved so quickly that there was barely time to notify the families of the town that they had to evacuate.

middletown fire

When the fire hit the gas stations on the edge of town, the fuel tanks exploded, worsening the blaze. The fire traveled to the down and destroyed virtually every single building More than 1000 homes and businesses burned to the ground. Pay close attention at 1:30.

Residents literally only had minutes to evacuate as the flames approached. This was not a calm, orderly evacuation. This was families fleeing for their lives.

Do you think you are prepped to evacuate? What if you had to literally drive through a wildfire? Here’s a dose of reality. This video was shot as one family left their home for what is most likely the last time. (Some very understandable harsh language).

I know what you’re thinking: That guy waited way too long to bug out.

The thing is, this fire moved so incredibly quickly that people who bugged out within minutes of notification had a scene exactly like this. They had a soundtrack of approaching flames roaring in their ears. One minute, the fire was a plume of smoke on the horizon, and the next minute it was in their backyards.

News reports say that more than a thousand homes and businesses have been lost, and that one civilian has died in the fire. Four firefighters had to deploy their survival shelters and allow the fire to “burn over” them when they could not escape the blaze. Miraculously, they only suffered second-degree burns and are recovering in the hospital.

This is how quickly a disaster can strike. No matter how well-prepped you thought you were for a potential evacuation, if your vehicle wasn’t already loaded, you’d only have time to grab what was closest to the door in a situation like this. Some residents didn’t even have time to put on their shoes before leaving. This particular fire was fueled by drought-dried brush and pushed by 20 MPH winds, making it engulf territory faster than veteran firefighters had ever seen a blaze move. Embers propelled by the wind sparked new fires that joined the original blaze, causing even more rapid expansion.A report in the Press Democrat described the exponential growth of the fire.

Hundreds of firefighters streamed into the area to battle the blaze, which grew from 50 acres to more than 10,000 acres in the span of five hours Saturday. It doubled in size again over the next four hours, swelling to 25,000 acres by 10:25 p.m.

And this is the horrifying aftermath. An entire town, left like this.

This is not the only wildfire in California. In the Fresno area is the Rough Fire, and the Butte Fire blazes about 100 miles away in Amador and Calaveras County.

Prepping for a Wildfire Evacuation

In the event of a rapid evacuation, here are a few tips.

  • Have your bug-out bags ready at all times. You may not have any warning, particularly if you live near the origin of the fire. Conditions could change rapidly, putting you in harm’s way. Always, always, have a bug-out bag ready.
  • Keep swimming goggles and N95 masks in your vehicle for all family members.  Swimming goggles will keep you from being blinded by dense smoke and the masks will filter the air somewhat so that you aren’t overcome by inhalation. I recommend these goggles and these masks – the kind with the valves offer you the most protection.
  • Keep your vehicle full of fuel. A dire bug-out scenario is not the time to run out of gas, and you can bet that the filling stations won’t be open for business in such an event.

What we learned during the King Fire

Last year, we lived right on the edge of the massive King Fire, and blessedly, did not have to make our escape. Had the conditions been similarly explosive, however, we would have had to flee for our lives as well.

We learned a lot about prepping for an emergency, even though we felt pretty well-prepared before it happened. Here’s a summary that I wrote the week after the danger from the fire had passed.

Bug out bags are absolutely the first prep you should make. If you’re just getting started, do this one thing. You can do it without spending a penny, by just gathering up things that you already own. You may not have a top-of-the-line, ready-for-the-apocalypse bag like THIS ONE, but you’ll still be far ahead of most people.  When we first learned of the fire and realized that evacuating might become necessary, I had only two things to do. I had to get documents from the safe (the documents, by the way, were already housed in a plastic folder, so I only had to grab that one thing) and pull the pet carriers out of the shed. In less than 5 minutes, we were ready to roll. Had it been necessary, we could have left with only the photocopies of the documents, because those always remain in our bug-out bags. Having your bug-out bag ready means that you have accepted in advance that disaster could strike.

Any time one disaster strikes, several more are sure to follow. This is highly probable.  Some people in the fire zone not only stayed on the edge of evacuation for nearly two weeks, but they also lost power due to the fire.  This greatly reduced their ability to get news and information, which is vital in a disaster situation. It leads to even more worry and stress, and while you’re dealing with the potential of your home burning down, you’re also living through a power outage lasting several days. Getting prepared for a two week power outage is absolutely vital and can see you through most regional disasters. Also, when it finally began to rain, although it helped to quench the flames, firefighters were suddenly threatened by flash floods,. These were made worse because the areas no longer had the same natural obstructions to deter the flow of water.

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