Planning for Wildfires and Evacuations is Key for Locals


Photo courtesy of Natalie Note

Natalie Note, Reporter

On Wednesday, September 8, a fire in Lucas Valley threatened houses in the Marinwood area and forced many families to evacuate. Due to this fire’s close proximity to Novato, as well as how it affected many Novato High students, many locals have begun to wonder how they can prepare for a potential evacuation.  

Ella Martin, a freshman at Novato High, lives in Marinwood and was excavated due to the Lucas Valley fire. “It was stressful. I went to my room and I was thinking, what are the things in my room that I don’t want to lose? What are things in my room that I can’t live without that aren’t replaceable? It was really hard.” 

Quick decision-making during a possible crisis is essential but challenging for most people.

“I ended up walking to a friend’s house,” Martin continued. “My Dad took the cats, we had to drop the cats off at a different house. It was crazy.”  

Martin went on to discuss her previous thoughts on wildfires. “Until it happened I was like, it’s fine. As soon as it was staring me in the face and I was like, ‘my house could burn down, I need to get out of my house,’ it was scary.” 

Daniel Elkington, a Tiburon fire captain, discussed how to best prepare for an evacuation. 

“The best way for anybody to prepare is obviously to do your research,” he said. “There are so many websites online to go ahead and look up how to prepare and what to prepare for. My best advice is always be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days.” 

While the term “self-sufficient” may differ in meaning from family to family, Elkington states his personal essentials include food, water, clothes, and shelter. “But for young people,” he states, “that might mean they need their phones or need certain things to keep them comfortable. It’s really up to the individual.” 

Elkington stressed that families in Marin and all over California need to be prepared for a possible mandatory long-term evacuation.

“It’s eventually going to happen,” he said. “I mean Mt. Tam hasn’t burned in over 100 years. Everything here is really dry because we have been in a drought. There’s been more urban sprawl, we have been building into areas that have more trees and more bushes. The likelihood of it happening has gone up. Be prepared because at some point it’s gonna happen.” 

Preparing your home for a wildfire does not only involve making an evacuation plan and stockpiling your essential items. There are ways to strengthen your home in preparation as well. According to, removing dead or dying vegetation up to 30 feet out from your home, as well as landscaping with fire-resistant plants such as french lavender and sage could prevent an ember from lighting up your yard and your home. 

While the amount of wildfires catching in California has not increased, any fire that does catch is burning for longer and burning more acreage. According to, summer wildfire seasons are 40-80 days longer than they were only 30 years prior and annual droughts are more pronounced, giving any fire that catches more than enough fuel. 

Overall, Marin country residents need to be more prepared for wildfires as people and homes are extremely vulnerable. Hopefully, the closeness of the recent Lucas Valley fire is enough for Novato residents to start thinking about compiling their essentials and making evacuation plans for the safety of their homes and their families.