« Continuity of Operations Planning

Why campsites need a continuity of operations plan

A California wildfire forced hundreds of campers to evacuate.
A California wildfire forced hundreds of campers to evacuate.

California is likely to see a heavy wildfire season this year, as the state experienced a very dry winter. While many residential areas have strong evacuation plans in place, recent events show why even temporary housing units—such as campsites—need their own continuity of operations plan.

On Monday, May 27, a fire started around 2:45 p.m. near Santa Barbara, in the White Rock Day Use campsite area. By Tuesday morning, the blaze had spread across 1,800 acres and was just 10 percent contained, according to U.S. News.

A public information officer at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office told the news source that 6,000 people had already been evacuated by Tuesday, and that 500 of the evacuees were multi day campers.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) released a letter last week, prior to Memorial Day weekend, urging individuals to be cautious when they were outside. The organization said that as the 2012-13 winter was one of the driest on record, officials had already seen a drastic increase in the amount of wildfires.

"In an average year, by late May CAL FIRE responds to approximately 850 wildfires," the letter said. "Already this year, CAL FIRE has responded to nearly 1,600 wildfires; that number is up 50 [percent] from last year at this time, when there were just under 1,050 wildfires."

Nicknamed the "White Fire," after the camp site, the flames are also being fed by strong wind gusts up to 60 mph.

In situations like this, authorities need to be able to quickly execute any continuity of operations planning to keep residents and visitors safe.