Canadian living amid California fires says its like planning for snow storm

A Canadian woman living near California’s Simi Valley says her car was packed Wednesday with emergency supplies as she was prepared to flee if a raging wildfire spread.

Dana Baker, who moved from Edmonton to California in 2017, said from her home she could see smoke billowing from the Simi Valley Brush Fire near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library outside Los Angeles.

The fire was about 10 to 15 kilometres away, said Baker, who’s an associate professor at California State University Channel Islands.

“I’ve just kept emergency supplies in there if we have to evacuate in the middle of the night,” Baker said, adding that her car was packed with food, water, clothing and fire blankets

The Simi Valley fire was threatening 6,500 homes and more fires have erupted in Southern California as powerful Santa Ana winds sweep the region.

Baker said the area was smoky and smelled like a “campfire.” She has been wearing masks outside and keeping her windows shut.

Her neighbours and friends have banded together to support each other, Baker said.

“It’s parallel in many ways to having severe snowstorms, just sort of a polar opposite. In the same way that you would be prepared when we lived up north for extreme weather, it’s just become a form of extreme weather,” she said in a telephone interview.

A crew of 75 Canadian electrical technicians, mechanics and safety workers, along with their gear, left Tuesday for the northern California city of Vallejo to assist with wildfires.

Aaron Rokstad, the owner of Rokstad Power in Coquitlam, B.C., said his company was contacted by officials in California asking for help on Monday.

Forecasters in the United States say California faces an “extremely critical risk” of further wildfires as winds whip up blazes that have destroyed more than 200 homes and buildings north of Vallejo.

California power provider PG&E has been shutting off electricity for millions of customers in order to reduce the risk of fires sparked by downed wires.

Rokstad said his company was called because it has done contract work for U.S. utilities after other disasters, such as hurricanes, and his crews and trucks clogged up the border crossing for hours as they made the journey.

He said their duties in Vallejo will include rebuilding fire-damaged power lines in what could be round-the-clock shifts of dangerous work.

“Once the areas are deemed safe and the fires are out, we will come in behind and start rebuilding the — I guess for lack of a better word — the burnt down infrastructure, overhead power lines, towers, poles … so they can get these people’s power back on.”

Rokstad said he expects power for some northern California residents could be out for weeks.

PG&E said the power that was shut down Tuesday would affect about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties including the Sierra foothills, wine country and the San Francisco Bay Area.

As many as 200,000 people have been displaced in northern California and about one million people across the state were still without power from a blackout over the weekend.

— With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2019.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Municipal councils looking for savings as provincial cuts loom

Innisfail town council freezes its pay and Lacombe considering 0% tax increase

Red Deer RCMP bait bike project results in charges

Several people were charged after Red Deer RCMP’s first bait bike project.… Continue reading

Westerner Park ‘needs to be in front’ of changing industry, says new CEO

The new CEO of Westerner Park says the organization needs to focus… Continue reading

Central Alberta women are fleeing from more dangerous domestic violence

‘It’s tremendously concerning,’ says shelter director

Canola producers want more biofuel included in diesel

Boosting biofuel requirements would increase canola demand hurt by China trade barriers

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Your community calendar

Wednesday Pain 101 class — learn to take control of your chronic… Continue reading

Indigenous conference to build understanding and community

Community members are invited to join the Red Deer Native Friendship Society… Continue reading

Quarterback Cody Fajardo practices with Saskatchewan Roughriders No. 1 offence

REGINA — Cody Fajardo was back practising with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on… Continue reading

Home Capital shares up as Q3 earnings rise, mortgage originations up

TORONTO — Home Capital Group Inc. shares surged Wednesday after the company… Continue reading

Bell, big cable networks ask government to overrule CRTC on wholesale rates

TORONTO — Canada’s largest telecommunications companies formally asked the federal cabinet on… Continue reading

‘The Social’ cast member Jessica Allen clarifies Cherry comments

TORONTO — A correspondent on the Canadian daytime talk show “The Social”… Continue reading

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he’s prepared to vote against… Continue reading

Saskatoon non-profit group plans to create safe place to leave newborns

SASKATOON — The discovery of a dead infant in a Saskatoon recycling… Continue reading

Most Read