California Wildfire Resources

Southern California is especially prone to wildfires, and Orange County residents need to be prepared when a natural disaster hits.  The following list of resources can help better protect you, your families, and your homes from danger.

California Wildfire Facts and FAQs

  • In 2017, wildfires burned nearly 1.2 million acres of land.
  • Over 10,800 buildings were destroyed and at least 46 people lost their lives.
  • Five of the nineteen most destructive fires in California’s history occurred in 2017.
  • On October 9, 2017, the Canyon 2 fire started near the community of Anaheim Hills.
    • The wildfire destroyed 9,200 acres, 15 houses, and 10 other structures in addition to damaging 55 buildings.
    • Over 15,000 residents from Anaheim Hills, North Tustin, and Orange were evacuated.
  • For information on current wildfires and fire risk in your area, visit CAL FIRE.


Know who to call if you see smoke or dangerous activity:

READY, SET, GO! Campaign – this is the State of California’s guide to preparing and responding to wildfire threats.  You can find useful information to protect you and your family’s home, sensitive personal documents, pets, and more from a wildfire.  Click the links below to navigate to each section.

Get Ready

Defensible Space:

            Defensible space is the barrier between your home and the wildlife around it.  It’s important to maintain the required 100 feet of defensible space to protect your home from burning and help prevent fires from spreading.

Hardening your home:

Hardening your home means using “ember-resistant burning materials” for all structures around the home and covering all openings with metal mesh or tempered glass to guard against stray embers that can destroy homes during a wildfire.

Fire Safe Landscaping:

Fire-safe landscaping (different from a well-kept backyard) means incorporating fire-resistant plants to create fire-safe zones and firebreaks to prevent flames from reaching your home.

Get Set

Creating a Wildfire Action Plan:

            Your evacuation plan should include a safe emergency meeting location, multiple escape routes, a plan for pets, and a Family Communication Plan where a nonlocal person is the primary point of contact in case of separation.  Shut off all power sources and make sure your family has individual Emergency Supply kits, emergency contact numbers, a portable radio, and fire extinguishers.


Preparing Your Family:

            Make sure evacuation plans include teaching toddlers how to evacuate if a fire occurs, and advance planning for seniors and disabled persons.  These resources can help you prepare:

            A Parent’s Guide to Fire Safety for Babies and Toddlers


Special Populations Fire-Safe Checklist

Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors


Emergency Supply Kit:

            Create an easily accessible emergency supply kit for long-term use for each person in the household and bring it with you when evacuating.  Include a three-day supply of nonperishable food, three gallons of water, maps, medication, clothing, eyeglasses or contacts, sanitation supplies, credit cards, cash, keys, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a battery-powered radio.    

Insurance Preparedness:

            Federal catastrophe grants will not cover the cost of rebuilding your home, so it is critical you conduct due-diligence regarding your insurance.  Annually review your homeowners insurance policy and coverage with an agent, update your insurance if necessary, make a home inventory, and maintain homeowners or renters insurance.


Pre-Evacuation Preparation:

            If you must evacuate, follow a home evacuation checklist to remind you to complete tasks like closing unlocked doors and windows, moving flammable furniture to the center of the room,  taking pets, and shutting off air conditioning, and gas and propane sources.  Take flammable belongings into the house or pool, connect garden hoses to water sources, and place water-filled buckets around the property.

Evacuation Steps:

            In case of immediate evacuation, review the Evacuation Plan Checklist, put your Emergency Plan Checklist into your vehicle, and wear protective clothing to guard against heat and flying embers.  Listen to all evacuation instructions and evacuate as soon as fire authorities recommend doing so.

Animal Evacuation:

            To protect pets, create a defensible space around your property, know animal evacuation routes beforehand, form alternate arrangements in case you aren’t home, and create a L=livestock or pet disaster preparedness plan.  If you leave your pets, keep them unchained and indoors with dry food and water.

What to do if you become trapped:

            If you are trapped on foot or in a vehicle, go to a location clear of vegetation, lie on the vehicle’s floor or face down with your body covered, and call 911.  If you are trapped at home, call 911, fill all available areas with cold water, make sure doors and windows are unlocked and closed, and stay inside away from windows and outer walls.

Federal Resources for post-disaster

Individual Disaster Assistance:

Federal assistance for home hardening and protection:

The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) helps States, U.S. Territories, tribes, and local communities create a “pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation program.”  Local governments applying on behalf of homeowners can give applications to their State during the application cycle.  The State will then submit applications to FEMA.

Local government resources:

            FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) department provides aid to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, and some private nonprofit organizations to assist local areas with natural disaster response efforts.   

Region 9 (California) resources:

FEMA Region 9 works with state and local governments, tribal nations, businesses, and volunteer groups to develop a “regional, all-hazards, risk-based emergency management system” for natural disasters.  Region 9 is prone to earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and tsunamis, which is why FEMA is focused on improving our ability to mitigate and respond to all types of hazards.

Voluntary, Faith-Based, and Community-Based Organizations:

FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VAL) provide information and support to voluntary, faith-based organizations on topics such as information sharing, planning, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, community services programs, and mission assignments.