Wildfire Preparedness & Evacuation


In a major conflagration, fire protection and law enforcement agencies may not have enough equipment and manpower to go door to door advising you to evacuate; you should be ready to make this decision yourself.

During a wildfire, roads become congested with vehicles, making evacuation a slow process. Long before evacuation seems likely, gather your family, your pets and your belongings and leave the area. When evacuating, use a route that takes you in the opposite direction of the fire. Try to avoid roads encased in dense vegetation and lined with trees; if the fire sweeps through this area while you are in your car, you may become trapped.



Life safety is always the most important consideration!

When Wildfire Approaches - Defending Your Home
When Caught in the Open
Evacuation Orders and Road Closures

When Wildfire Approaches - Defending Your Home | Back | Top
In a major conflagration, fire protection agencies may not have enough equipment or firefighters to be stationed at every home; you cannot depend solely upon the help of fire agencies. One of the principal responsibilities of firefighters is to stop the spread of fire from house to house. Therefore, if one home is on fire, firefighters may have to pass it by to save another in the path of the fire.

Careful planning and action on the part of you, the homeowner, can help save your home during a wildfire. Be prepared. Talk with your neighbors to see what resources are available and consult with local fire personnel for professional advice and assistance.

If you do not evacuate in time, or if you decide to stay with your home, the following suggestions will increase your chances of safely and successfully defending your property.

When the fire approaches:

After the fire passes:

When Caught in the Open | Back | Top
Temperatures may exceed several thousand degrees Fahrenheit during a wildfire. If you are caught in the open, it is best to seek temporary shelter where ground fuels (brush, grasses, bushes) are sparse.

Inside an Automobile:
Move your vehicle to bare ground or areas where ground fuels are sparse. Close all doors and windows, lie on the floor and cover yourself with a jacket or blanket. The fuel tank of the car will normally not explode unless the car is fully involved in flames; often times the fuel tank will not explode at all. Try to stay calm and let the fire pass.

Along a Road:
If caught without shelter along a road, lie face down along the road cut or the ditch on the uphill side (less fuel and less convection heat). Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the heat of the fire.

Danger Zones:
While hiking out of an area where fire is in progress, avoid topographic features like "chimneys" or "saddles."

Evacuation Orders and Road Closures | Back | Top
Road closures around emergency incidents are essential to the rapid movement of people leaving an area and the mobility of emergency equipment into the area. On major incidents, immediate road closures become essential to allow accessibility of firefighting forces, orderly evacuation and the exclusion of unauthorized people.

The Fire District is responsible for determining when the need for evacuation exists and the San Diego Sheriffs Department and California Highway Patrol are responsible for carrying out an ordered evacuation. The purpose is to protect people from life-threatening situations. California Penal Code Section 409.5 provides the legal authority for law enforcement officers to close and restrict access to disaster areas; the news media, however, is legally exempt from this provision.

A person has the right to stay on their property if they so desire, and if in doing so that person IS NOT (1) Hindering the efforts of fire personnel, or (2) Contributing to the danger of the disaster situation. In fires or floods, people who wish to remain on site may be able to aid fire personnel in saving their own property; those who desire to remain may be permitted to do so.

During a fire or flood, there may be several different phases of road closures within the disaster area, including:

  1. An area that could possibly be involved in the disaster, but presently is not. People without purpose will be restricted from entry to reduce traffic problems or the potential for looting
  2. An area of imminent danger with limited access or egress. People would be discouraged from entry, even if they live in the area.
  3. An area presently involved in the emergency where extreme danger to life exists and where traffic must be restricted due to movement of emergency vehicles. People, including residents, will be refused entry.


Additional Resources

Download our preparation and evacuation guide "Getting Out Alive." (pdf)

Download "Making Your Home Wildfire Ready." (pdf)

Download our fire-safe landscape checklist (pdf)

More Wildfire & Evacuation Preparedness Tips


NOTE: If you are a resident of The Bridges, The Crosby, CIELO, 4S-Ranch or The Lakes, please see our Shelter in Place program, which is specific to your communities.