Calif. Residents Form Fire Preparedness Group

POWAY, Calif. --

Members of one local community are taking extra steps to be prepared before another wildfire hits the region.

The fires of 2003 and the Witch Fire of 2007 sent the county into a state of emergency and will forever be ingrained in the minds of San Diegans.

Residents of Poway have formed the Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps.The group organized the city into 60 communities. Each community will have a designated volunteer leader who has with contact information for all neighbors. During a fire, the volunteer leader will make sure all their neighbors are accounted for.

Supporters say it is a simple concept with potential life-saving results.

"We decided it will be best for neighbors to help neighbors," said Chuck Cross, who is with the Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps.

Merrilee Boyak volunteered with the evacuation center during the 2007 fire and saw the chaos, especially when it came to helping the elderly.

"No one knew how to help them," she said. "It took days to help them connect with neighbors. This way, if we have a volunteer, they will know everyone in their neighborhood… they will know who needs help."

Although reverse 911 calls went out during the fires, the information was not enough.

"This is the neighborhood accountability," said Boyak. "This me is making sure Mrs. Simpson across the street is picked up and taken care of."

The group, which is still looking for more volunteers, will hold regular drills.

They say it's about preparing for a disaster that they hope will never happen again.

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