What to do when wildfires approach your home

SALT LAKE CITY — June 21 is the official first day of summer 2022, and with warmer temperatures inevitably comes wildfires. And one of the biggest concerns of fire season is being in the path of a fire that forces you and your family to evacuate your home and neighborhood.

Randall Jeppson, the executive producer of Utah’s Morning News, spoke with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and guest host Greg Skordas about what it was like to evacuate as the Knolls Fire closed in on his Saratoga neighborhood Springs in 2020.

Next, Wade Mathews from the Utah Division of Emergency Management shared tips on preparing your home for a fire evacuation.

Wildfires are burning and getting closer to home

In 2012, another fire threatened the Jeppson neighborhood in Saratoga Springs but was quickly extinguished by firefighters. This experience prompted the Jeppson family to put their most important and valuable items, such as passports, birth certificates and heirlooms, in a trash can.

“It’s June and this huge fire is starting a few miles from my house,” Jeppson said. “It was very windy, a bit like the last few days.”

As the Knolls fire got closer, firefighters ran down the street telling neighbors to evacuate immediately, Jeppson recalled.

Jeppson’s family fled in the van. He stayed behind, closing all the windows and turning off the air conditioning.

“When I walked out of the house, probably 10 minutes later, I couldn’t even see across the street,” Jeppson said.

As the wildfire approached, he jumped in his car and raced down the street – only to be stuck in a traffic jam for 30 minutes as he “watched the flames burn towards our homes”.

Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit

Evacuating when told by firefighters, Mathews said, Jeppson did the right thing.

“A lot of people do what we call milling. They look around and wait for more information and see what the neighbors are going to do,” he said.

Instead, you simply need to act immediately. It’s the difference between life and death. It’s the difference between being a victim and a survivor.

He also said to have a disaster supply kit ready. It should contain food, water, medicine, clothing, tools – everything you need to get by for a few days while you take shelter outside the wildfire area.

Besides the disaster supplies kit, Mathews added, make a list of irreplaceable items such as priceless documents and heirlooms, etc., that you need to take in the event of a wildfire in your area.

“What happens if you run into this traffic jam like Randall did?” Dave asked.

“Leaving on foot rather than being confronted with the flames is probably another option as well. Hopefully law enforcement can move this traffic jam quickly,” Mathews said.

“At some point, if you have to leave all your stuff behind, you have to leave your stuff behind,” Dave said. “You are the most important possession.”

Related:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play

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