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Wildfires Bring Harsh Reminder of Need for Disaster Planning

The fury of California's current spate of wildfires should remind event planners to plan for disaster.

Wind-driven wildfires are again plaguing California, with widespread power outages, evacuations and heavy smoke adding to the misery.

At press time, the biggest threat is the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, reports that 75,415 acres, or about 117 square miles, have burned. That's more than twice the size of San Francisco and more than five times the size of Manhattan, according to S.F. Gate.

A Red Flag Warning has been issued for most of Northern California and portions of Southern California from today until late Thursday evening and even into Friday for some areas, due to strong winds and low humidity. Pacific Gas and Electric has an array of power outages planned for the Bay Area starting today; the outages are designed to reduce the risk of power equipment triggering a fire.

The shifting winds make it hard to predict what area might be hit next.

BRIGHT SPOTS In some good news, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa in Sonoma, Calif., has not had to cancel or postpone any events, reports Michelle Heston, Fairmont regional director of public relations. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with those impacted,” she says, adding the hotel team is “sending our sincere thanks to the hundreds of first responders and firefighters.”

Despite the heavy smoke in San Francisco, operations at Ideas Events and Rentals have stayed on course, reports chief operating officer Dianna Cavagnaro.

Wedding planner Gwen Helbush of Where to Start, located in the East Bay town of Newark, Calif., has wrapped up her wedding season with “no disasters to report--whew!” she says.

With the situation still in flux, “Like last time I expect it to take a beat for people think about wedding and events,” Helbush explains. “Once they do, we need to be ready to react to our colleagues’ needs and clients’ panic. We just have to give them time to figure out what they need, then we can help.”


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Ill Wind: Hurricane Florence Brings Reminder for Event Disaster Insurance

Rental Essentials: Wildfires Show Need for Disaster Preparedness

Cancel or Continue? What to Do When Crisis Hits your Event Site

Risk306 Conference: Special Events' sister publications group, MeetingsNet, will host its Risk360 conference on Nov. 14 in New York, aimed at helping event and meeting planners foresee and respond to risk. Learn more here.

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