The US Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, Riverside County's Emergency Management Department and several agencies hosted a wildfire education and preparedness meeting at the Mountain Resource Center in Idyllwild Saturday afternoon. Residents of mountain communities were invited to receive free food, drinks and valuable information on how to be prepared for the worst.
"Prepare now. People don’t think about preparing until something actually happens and then they think, 'I wish I would have been better prepared for that,'" Sr. public information specialist for Riverside County's Emergency Management Department, Shane Reichardt said.
Idyllwild residents know all too well what it's like facing the worst. The memory of the destructive Cranston Fire in 2018, that crept dangerously close to the community, proves anything could happen.
"We want the community to be ready for whatever may come-- fires, floods, stuff that we’ve experienced recently," Reichardt said.
The agencies in attendance set up booths and handed out informational pamphlets and other items in an effort to help educate residents.
"When there’s a large-scale fire and resources are stretched thin we need people to do their part and make their homes defensible so that their homes can withstand a fire on their own--If we can’t get resources or if we can’t get resources into the structures," said Katherine Garver with the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council.
Garver is also retired from CalFire. She said creating 100 feet of defensible space around mountain homes and being prepared at a moment's notice can make all the difference.
"Documents, keys, medications-- that you have more than one way to evacuate. You have supplies for pets, their carriers are readily available and that you leave when the direction has been given to you by authorities," Garver said.
A siren system is also in the works in Idyllwild to alert residents of an emergency.
"There will be advisories that are unique and specific to whatever type of emergency is unfolding. So it’ll be an alert to get people to tune in for the message-- whether it’s safety, to shelter in place," Garver said.
"It's pretty dry up here a lot of summers so our firefighters are really on it," Wooley's owner, Chriss Allen said.
Allen's business is in the heart of Idyllwild's downtown area, where he sells a range of hats along with other items. For Allen, the wildfire concern is always there, but having a business in the mountains for 20 years has taught him a thing or two.
"Everyone just kind of packs up their personal stuff and keeps it in a safe or certain things they need to get out of town. We’ve been evacuated a couple times," Allen said.