With the peak of wildfire season soon bearing down on California, San Diego Gas & Electric this weekend will host the first of four wildfire safety fairs, giving people who live in backcountry locales emergency backpack kits and up-to-date information in case of evacuations and power shutoffs.
Because of concerns about COVID-19, the events will be held on a drive-thru basis. Participants will remain in their vehicles when they receive their emergency kits and drive to various booths manned by personnel from SDG&E, Cal Fire, the Red Cross and other agencies that will provide wildfire preparedness and safety tips.
The first drive-thru safety fair will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ramona Rodeo parking lot at the Ramona Outdoor Community Center, 421 Aqua Lane.
The emergency kit backpacks are free and contain supplies such as an emergency radio, a solar cellphone charger and a power inverter. One kit will be given per car and will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.
When wildfire conditions are high, utilities sometimes de-energize power lines in vulnerable areas to try to avoid downed lines sparking a fire. Last year, SDG&E deployed these “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” four times, affecting about 27,000 customers.
Power shutoffs are particularly hard on backcountry residents who often rely on electricity to pump well water on their properties, as well as those dependent on medical devices powered by electricity.
SDG&E has spent nearly $2 billion in ratepayer funds on wildfire mitigation programs since the deadly Witch, Guejito and Rice wildfires killed 10 people and destroyed more than 1,700 homes.
The three other drive-thru safety fairs are scheduled for: