Lamorinda will be on fire Saturday morning. But only virtually … as far as anyone knows.
Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga police, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, and Contra Costa’s Community Warning System will all play their parts in a virtual emergency/evacuation at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
The virtual fire will cover all three cities and the community of Canyon, all of which have their own specific geographic evacuation zones, according to a release from Moraga police.
The drill will start with a computer-generated fire model prompting evacuation notices being sent to the geographic zones threatened by the virtual fire. As it progresses, additional messages will be sent out, based on conditions and where it spreads.
Area residents should expect to begin receiving messages sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Messages will be relayed by the county’s emergency warning system — the only official source for information should a real emergency occur. (Police urge residents to subscribe to both the county system and Nixle, the latter of which won’t convey “official” information but could still convey valuable messages).
Officials say to prepare for Saturday’s drill, residents should register online for the Community Warning System. CWS calls to residents’ phones will display a return number of 925-655-0195. The number is registered to Contra Costa County, which should prevent it from going to spam filters. Nevertheless, officials say residents should add the number to their favorites, to avoid becoming spam or being blocked by “do not disturb” messages. Officials ask residents to encourage others to sign up as well.
They also ask residents to discuss with families what to do if a real evacuation is ordered. Plans should include taking only one car to reduce traffic impact, have a bag of necessities ready, and plans to only bring what can be loaded immediately (keys, wallets, cell phones, pets). The Lamorinda Community Emergency Response Team website offers a list of suggestions. Other information about evacuation checklists can be found at Fire Safe Marin and Ready.gov.
Residents can sign up for Nixle alerts by texting their zip code to 888777. To find out what evacuation zone you live in, visit the Zonehaven website and enter your address.
On July 31, officials ask that when you receive your virtual evacuation notice, gather your family and practice loading into your car. They also suggest knocking on neighbors’ doors to ensure they also got the message.
Residents who do not receive the alert should contact CWS at 925-313-9622, via e-mail, or by postal mail at 50 Glacier Drive, Martinez, CA 94553.