Orange, CA. — TODAY, Former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who is running for Orange County’s 3rd Supervisor District, penned an Op-Ed calling for increased fire safety and prevention measures in Orange County.
The 2018 wildfire season in California was the deadliest and most destructive season in the state’s history. This was punctuated by the tragic loss of life in Paradise, CA, where 85 people were killed when a wildfire ripped through this community, destroying homes and devastating lives. Rather than an anomaly, scientists say that the changing climate and weather — coupled with increased development near wild-land vegetation — is making wildfires increasingly likely across the West.
When I look to my community in Orange County, I am concerned. A recent analysis from the The Arizona Republic reflected the significant danger Orange faces. On a scale of 1–5, with the median being 2.08, Orange ranks at 3.21 for wildfire hazard potential. Paradise was 3.81.
Our (in)ability to escape a fire is equally disturbing. In the communities of Serrano Heights, Mabury Ranch, Orange Park Acres, Hidden Hills, Hidden Oaks, Hidden Creek Trail, North Colony, Jamestown, The Reserve, Parkridge, Portofino, Santiago Hill’s 1 East Orange, and Entitled Santiago Hills 2 East Orange, approximately 8,000 people have only one western escape route.
According to this report, it would take approximately four hours to evacuate via this one road. Paradise, with its six evacuation routes, saw 11 people perish in their cars amidst bumper-to-bumper traffic.
While wildfires rage through our state, District Supervisor Don Wagner has done little to properly secure our community from this growing threat. At a recent Fire Prevention workshop sponsored by Wagner, residents were urged to plan their escape route in advance. But what good is an escape route that will be clogged with cars?