MALBU, Calif. – It has been nearly one year since the Woolsey Fire hit, and with fire prone weather conditions intensifying the community is on high alert once again.
It was the most destructive fire in the history of L.A. County. The Woolsey Fire destroyed more than 1,600 homes, structures, and displaced nearly a quarter million people in L.A. and Ventura Counties.
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Nearly one year later, with Red Flag Warnings at hand again, the community is staying extra prepared. A recent report examining the Woolsey Fire, issued by Los Angeles County, highlights various shortcomings as it pertains to preparation for the fire last year. Difficulties with communication was a great concern, as noted in both the report, and emphasized by Malibu Mayor Pro Tem, Mike Pierson.
“Communications was a really big one. I mean having no ability to communicate was traumatizing for a lot of people, we are all really addicted to our cell phones, and when they don’t work, we freak out,” Pierson said.
As a resident of Malibu and a local government leader, Pierson actively volunteers his time with Arson Watch. He says fire prevention is not just for firefighters, it is a community effort. The Woolsey report indicates more resources were needed, which is why Pierson dedicates his personal time.
“If you live in a very high fire zone like Malibu, we all have to as residents, take responsibility for ourselves,” Pierson said.
Pierson and other Malibu residents are doing their part, when the weather is dry, by going out to nearby canyons to look for smoke or any suspicious activity that could spark a fire. But as the report indicated, a lack of proper communication was costly, which is why the city is implementing new efforts.
“So what the city has done, even to the point of buying fifty electronic blow horns and sirens and let people know there’s an issue so we make sure they’re aware, because if there’s no way to get a message out, we have to do something,” said Pierson.
That something for Pierson, includes constant observation of his surroundings. He also joined a community based firefighting brigade to help locals when LAFD’s resources are tight, which was the case when the Woolsey Fire hit at the same time as the Paradise and Hill Fires.
“Membership in Arson Watch has gone up tremendously, a lot more volunteers. A lot of community groups have sprung up, so a lot of people have really rallied around having this community be better prepared in a multitude of ways,” said Pierson.