Three Letter Re: The Recent San Diego, California Wildfires

I have the rest of the day off due to the wildfires in the area so I am at home. The firefighting aircraft have been grounded due to wind until a couple of minutes ago. The evacuation zone is currently a 1/4 mile east of me. My northeastern and southeastern escape routes are currently out of the question. I figure that by the time I get told to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), the Northern route will be closed off or too crowded to take. Going South into Mexico is currently not an option due to the makeup of my G.O.O.D.kit ([which includes] military caliber firearms and ammo.) Probably will head to the beach area if I need to G.O.O.D.. I have a couple of friends in that area. I do not want to G.O.O.D. until the last minute due to security reasons. [For fear of looting of my household goods.]. One positive thing is that there were several small brush fires pretty close to me several months ago so the underbrush is already burned away. The fire department is spending too many resources arguing with the people who refused to evacuate to get them out of harm’s way and they are not able to allocate the resources to fight the fire.

I had my low profile small duration G.O.O.D. stuff loaded in my vehicle within 15 minutes. I had parts of the kit stored in multiple locations in my place and it took only 15 minutes to gather my stuff. Only things missing were my Baygen radio and toilet paper. (That’s what the liberal newspapers are for.) I was planning on getting a solar/hand crank radio and had put my hand crank radio into storage. My low profile kit is configured so that anyone looking into my vehicle will not know that I have gear in my vehicle, yet enough for me to live out of my vehicle for a few days.

I topped off my gas this morning before I went to work. Not surprised to find out that no one else at work had packed their essentials in case they are not able to make it back to their abode due to road closures. A lot of people were bugging out early from work due to the spreading fire so we decided to close down the company. I really didn’t care since I was already equipped to survive. Later,
– “Dan Fong”

JWR Adds: In case you are wondering, yes, the writer of this letter is my real life friend of 25+ years, upon whom the Dan Fong character in my novel “Patriots” was directly drawn. And yes, he really says “Oh maaan!”


First, I must say after reading you for a while now almost every thing on television I see, or disaster, or shopping excursion my mind wanders to ” What would Jim say?” Thanks for your wisdom and guidance.

What if you have to abandon your fixed position? like the 500,000 – 1 Million good folks in Southern California?
Obviously one should have copies of all pertinent documents on an encrypted portable drive on their person and if possible all the family photos and originals of those docs not too far away in a briefcase ready to move at a moments notice. What about my arms collection and ammo ? a real house fire will cook a safe and ruin the guns. I have many coworkers and friends in the San Diego area are that are affected and may be homeless soon. please pray for them. If you live in an affected area please have you gear ready to go this time of year (October Santa Ana winds in so cal, hurricane season in the south, tornado season in the midwest, blizzard season in the north east and any earthquake area). ( as an aside, notice no stories yet of rapes at the football stadium or looting?)

I was at Hearst Castle this past weekend and we went on the tour that included the wine cellar. recently you suggested that if you were building a custom home, use non-local contractors.But if you were pouring a nice all concrete basement, I would suggest that you just tell the local guy that its a wine and root cellar/ pantry. Of course Hearst had real steel safe doors for locks and his was compartmentalized, his excuse that they told us on the tour was that if a basement fire broke out it could be contained. One could make an interior room of the cellar their armory / reloading room and then the outer part of the cellar their wine cellar and pantry. Anyway, this is food for thought.

Lastly, with Halloween season upon us, you may have noticed all the stores have all kinds of candies in bite size packaging for sale. For the last few years, I have bought several bags of my favorite chocolate bar and vacuum packed them and then kept them in my camping box (for camping treats as well as long lead time BOB food) and my BOB. Rotating them annually hasn’t been a problem if you keep it out of any heat. A real grinch could then give away the year old candy on 10/31.. or just eat it. if you wait until 11/1 your choices may be limited but you can get the candy for 1/2 price. if anything, trade barter or making the kids happy and its some quick energy.

Along these same lines, I was also at the beverage superstore lately and saw all the little 50 ml single serve ‘airline’ bottles. Me thinks a case or two of these of various hard liquors could be tucked away for future trade barter or medicinal purposes. Your thought?
Thanks, – Tim L.

JWR Replies: As a Baptist, I don’t personally stock any liquor for barter. But many folks see the wisdom of doing so. OBTW, if you do buy any liquor, one variety stock up on is the 190 Proof variety of Everclear grain alcohol, which also has medicinal purposes (for sterilizing instruments and for making tinctures) and can be used as lamp fuel.

I write this to you as I communicate with my family still in the fire zones in San Diego. I am a former San Diego resident who happily relocated to the wet and soggy Pacific Northwest. I still have family and memories of the region. My step mother reports that she is on alert to bug out with minutes notice. She is sleeping tonight with a packed car in the driveway and in street clothes so she can go fast to G.O.O.D.. However, there are serious concerns and issues my family has expressed.

1) Main travel ways, arterials and so on are clogged. Fire and emergency vehicles going in, folks evacuating out. As a kid in San Diego, I watched some friends get seriously burned in their vehicle when they were trapped in a blow over, caused by them staying too late. Burning to near death in their car was horrific enough. Over 250,000 people ordered to evacuate. San Diego has an excellent highway system but when you have that many moving . . .
2) Many folks have been reluctant to leave. Family has stated that they are aware that looters and burglars have worked some mandatory evacuated neighborhoods to their benefit. If your house doesn’t burn, it could get robbed.
3) What people are packing for evacuation in their vehicle is insane. Everything but what they really need (documents, photos, family bible, etc.). I was listening to a cable news program tonight in which a producer admitted that she evacuated her house, taking important things like her Emmy [Award Statue]s. For the love of goddess!
4) Fire is a sadly common event and yet people in that area still have homes with shingle roofs and land that has not been disaster proofed (ice plant, sprinkler systems, etc.). Several years ago, my dad rejected a shake shingle roof system to replace the old one. He now has good ole terra cotta and stucco sides (gee, odd how the early settlers knew how to mitigate fire damage to their buildings).
5) Telling statement from a local television report: “ The mayor’s office put out a call the public to help provide for the evacuees at the Friars Road sports arena. The following items, which should be taken to the stadium’s “P” gate, are needed: tents, cots, water, blankets and prepared food.” Oddly enough, these residents knowingly live in fire and earthquake zones and yet they don’t have supplies. Worse yet, the city is unprepared for the numbers of evacuees. Makes the preps we do seems at that much more intelligent.

Anyway, some thoughts for the SurvivalBlog readers. My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected, my family and those fire fighters and cops going into these zones to put down the fires and help the people out.
– MP in Seattle (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)