FORESTHILL, Calif. — Living in the forest has its rewards. People come to Placer County for the evergreens and the sweeping views.
Phil Alotis knows these rewards. They were some of the reasons he moved to Foresthill from the San Francisco Bay Area last year. But this picturesque scene also comes with some risks.
In 2018, forested areas like much of Placer County were bulldozed by massive wildfires, burning hundreds of thousands of acres and killing more than 100 people across the state.
"We bought the house and moved in after the Camp Fire," Alotis told ABC10. "We had friends who live in Santa Rosa and were affected by that fire. We knew what it meant to be up in the forest."
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He may know what it means, but Alotis is still learning how to be fire wise. He was one of a few dozen residents who attended a meeting Wednesday night hosted by Placer County safety officials there to answer questions ahead of the fast-approaching fire season.
Placer County OES says it is working on an emergency evacuation plan. But it’s not completed yet. Officials tell ABC10 that they’re hoping to have the plan finished by this summer to use for other emergencies, too.
"What we're focusing on now is developing a map for our first response agency partners," said Holly Powers, assistant director of emergency services for Placer County. "So, when law and fire need to do that evacuation they have an understanding of where all assets are."
In the meantime, officials are encouraging people to make their own exit plans. That involves residents looking at the first 30 and 100 feet from their houses and finding vegetation to clear for defensible space and routes to take when a fire approaches.
The latter is what Alotis is learning — all the roads around his property and how to get out.
"In our neighborhood, there's one road in,” Alotis explained. “However, there is an alternate route out and crosses a little bit of the property. Everybody in the neighborhood has a map and everyone's name on the houses. I'm not fooling around. Fire wins. If you're not prepared you can't stop it."
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