Continuity of operations planning is something that every town, regardless of size or location, needs to have. Natural disasters are just one example of a reason for people to evacuate, and it is essential that emergency personnel can do their jobs while residents are able to get themselves to safety.
Monrovia, California evacuated nearly 200 residents over the weekend, due to a brush fire that burned over 100 acres, reported the Associated Press. Jennifer McLain, a city spokeswoman, said in a statement that the blaze was caused by equipment used by a gardener working the backyard.
"Flames spread to the hillside behind the residence, scorching about 175 acres and sending a huge smoke cloud that could be seen across the San Gabriel Valley," the AP said. "The fire did not threaten homes, but authorities ordered evacuations as a precaution. They began lifting evacuation orders late Saturday after firefighters contained 50 percent of the blaze, and winds subsided."
According to local news station KTLA, the fire was 85 percent contained as of Sunday, and close to 125 acres had burned. At that time, there was not an estimate of when the blaze would be 100 percent contained.
Evacuation orders were lifted on Saturday night and residents were allowed to return to their homes. KTLA added that 65 engines, two air tankers and five helicopters helped battle the flames.
While this fire was not widespread, it is important to note that Monrovia was able to safely evacuate individuals without causing panic. When towns have an up-to-date continuity of operations plan, residents will understand where they need to go to while not disrupting emergency responders.
Conducting tabletop exercises can also help ensure that all individuals know how to move quickly and efficiently during emergency situations.