Three large homes have burned in Laguna Beach since Aug. 24, and none of them had working smoke detectors, according to fire officials.
This is especially shocking in Laguna, where a raging wildfire destroyed some 300 homes in 1993. Fortunately, conditions this summer have been relatively safe as far as the potential for wildfire is concerned, but in at least two of the recent blazes, adjacent homes were threatened and one neighborhood was evacuated.
No lives have been lost, but families have been left homeless and valuables have been destroyed. It's heartbreaking for the residents, and frightening for neighborhoods.
Ironically, the Laguna Beach Fire Department launched its Ready, Set, Go program earlier in August, in preparation for the 2010 fire season.
Fire Chief Kris Head has made preparedness a priority. This bears repeating: "As we approach this fire season, it is important for residents to assess their preparedness for surviving wildland fire," the chief said.
While wildfires take special precautions, such as eliminating fire fuels around homes and using fire-resistant materials, there is no excuse for not having a working smoke detector in every residence.
In fact, it's not a bad idea for residents and businesses to ask around and make sure that working smoke detectors are installed in neighboring homes and properties. Fires spread quickly, especially in areas with close-clustered dwellings and large trees.
For those in wildfire areas, the Ready, Set, Go program gives guidance on readying homes with ignition-resistive features and determining how to create defensible space, setting an action plan and getting ready to "go" with a plan on when to leave and where to go in the event of a wildfire.
Community members may sign up at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/fire for a free wildfire consultation, and fire officials are always happy to advise about fire safety in the home, whether or not it is in a wildfire area.
For more information, contact Capt. Patrick Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org.