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Red-flag warning has OC firefighters on alert

September 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the dry and windy weather plaguing Orange County, local communities and fire officials are doing what they can to be prepared. The Tustin community held a mass evaluation drill Saturday near the hillside area of Lemon Heights and Cowan Heights.

Officials say these dangerously fire-prone hillside neighborhoods consist of windy roads which can make the area hard to evacuate.

On Saturday, about 100 residents volunteered to take part in the drill - the first of its kind for Orange County Fire Authority.

Officials say these neighborhoods, which consist of about 1,000 homes, would be very difficult to evacuate in the event of a wildfire once the homes are threatened. The goal is to get people out before that happens.

The area lost 66 homes back in 1967.

Tustin High School served as the evacuation center for the drill. Residents who participated Saturday said they learned how to better prepare for an evacuation.

"I think this is a very good idea," said Marsha Corzine of Cowan Heights. "We live in a very, vulnerable area for fires and it's really neat to be prepared and I think we've got some good hints today."

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concildi stressed the importance of the communities' safety due to the areas increased fire danger.

"There will be a fire, eventually at some point, that threatens this community so they could plan ahead hard in their home, and, if there is a fire, be able to exit safely and quickly," said Concildi.

On Saturday, firefighters battled a 7.5-acre vegetation fire in the 29200 block of Camino Capistrano in Laguna Niguel.

The blaze was quickly put out before it threatened any homes.

Firefighters, however, remain concerned over the red-flag warning in effect over parts of Orange County.

The OCFA says they will remain on high alert due to the high winds, warm temperatures, and low humidity levels plaguing the area.

The red-flag warning issued by the National Weather Service for the O.C., I.E., and Santa Ana mountains remains in effect until 6 p.m.