Conference looks at wildfire preparation

PARADISE — The California Fire Safe Council held the first of a two-day conference on wildfire preparedness Tuesday in Paradise.

At least 45 people gathered at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center in Paradise to hear a presentation by Lara Popyack, communications and outreach coordinator of the California Fire Safety Council.

“Today is really inspiring,” Popyack said. “There are so many people in the room doing the work to create a fire safe state. Collective voices are coming together.”

“We’re really looking to amplify the message and It’s a safe space to talk about life and property saving issues,” said Popyack.

Popyack said the message needs to travel to as many people as possible.

“We’re trying to get the message to as many people as possible,” Popyack said. “The fire ‘season’ is starting now, it’s really year round now. There really is no fire season anymore. Paradise is so unique and such a resilient community. The local fire safe councils need support to do the work. We’re developing programs so the local community can grow and are in the community telling stories. We’re getting people interested and we’re learning how to work with social media.”

Popyack said it’s important for people to prepare for wildfires by having a “go bag” with clothes, water, cell batteries, and more and to have an evacuation plan. “The best plan evokes the three Ps: property, people and pets,” she said.

On Wednesday, the Ready Raccoon mascot will appear at the conference.

Calli-Jane West from the Butte Fire Safe Council enjoyed the conference Tuesday.

“It’s stellar,” she said. “The spirit of the workshop connects people together. There are resources online to help. We’re the first to have a regional workshop. Talking with Ready Raccoon is really important.”

Lauren de Terra is an employee of Butte County Fire Council.

“We’re activating discussions to bring fire education to youth. We want to get people moving and talking to one another. We’re learning about defensible space. There are a lot of programs out there. The next step is two new education programs for teachers. I’m excited to hear about Ready Raccoon going out to schools. It’s a fun way to raise awareness.”

“It’s a fantastic workshop,” said Judith Schreuder, who lives in Cohasset and attended the conference.

“There’s climate change and severe drought,” said Kathy Lawson, who also attended the conference and lives in Cohasset. “It’s critical to be prepared for anything. We need to make sure the elderly and disabled are safe.”

Both women said there is a lack of communication in Cohasset.

“There’s a lack of communication and limited services. Cell phone service and internet and landlines go down easily,” said Lawson.

“We have to be self-sufficient,” Schreuder said. “It’s phenomenal that they put this together.”

“There are fires up and down the coast,” said Lawson. “It’s wonderful that they’ve brought this to the community to implement new programs.”

Representatives from several surrounding counties such as Glenn and Tehama attended the conference.

Wednesday’s conference begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. and is held at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center in Paradise. For more information visit

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