Get Plugged In at 2019 Emergency Fair, May 5

When Topanga was left unplugged last November 9, the first full day of the Woolsey Fire, many questions came up later: “What did we do before cell phones and the internet? How do we adapt to SCE’s policy of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)? What can we do to prepare for the next emergency?”

Woolsey was a wake-up call for all Topangans. Thanks to the Topanga Emergency Management (TEM) Task Force—comprised of local volunteers, fire, law enforcement, county and state officials—the 2019 Topanga Emergency Fair on Sunday, May 5, will share numerous ways to GET PLUGGED IN the next time Topanga is UNPLUGGED.

The fair runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Topanga Community Center with presentations scheduled twice (morning and afternoon) so as to be available to as many people as possible.

The fair offers a number of opportunities to get first-hand information, including meeting our new Station 69 fire captains and Battalion 5 fire chiefs, Sheriff and CHP emergency responders, as well as local emergency and American Red Cross volunteers.

The program includes videos of the Woolsey Fire, discussions on general fire behavior, hardening your home against fire, emergency preparedness, the history and videos of Helistop 69 Bravo, discussions on alternative power, communications, and a chance to practice using a fire

extinguisher. You can also pick up a copy of the Topanga Survival Guide, get your 2019 Topanga Resident Access Card, and purchase emergency supplies.

For pet and large animal owners there will be an opportunity to sign up for micro chipping and horse trailer inspections at a future date and location.

The fair is also about raffle prizes, activities for kids and adults throughout the day that include children’s interactive computer games, a Red Cross puppet show, and the Fire Safe Council’s “Ember House” game. Want to know what it’s like to be a firefighter? Try on their firefighting gear and join in the Fire Hose Drag race.

On-site parking at TCC is limited to ADA persons with disabilities; limited space (about 30) is available at the Theatricum lot; recommended overflow parking is along Topanga Canyon Boulevard (behind fog line) and walk up. There is no shuttle.



HANDS-ON FIRE EXTINGUISHER EXERCISE at the top of every hour, beginning at 11 a.m.


WOOLSEY FIRE IN REVIEW (10:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., 45 minutes)

What were the factors influencing the Woolsey Fire? What was the threat to Topanga and why were residents evacuated? Why did it take so long to repopulate?

Topangans are privileged to have on hand for this presentation, Battalion 5 Chief Drew Smith and Assistant Chief Anthony Williams. Both were on the front lines well before we woke up on November 9 or even knew there was a fire. Chief Smith is a fire behavior expert and tracked the fire on the ground and calculated the effect of the winds. He predicted that once the fire burned through Malibu, if onshore winds picked up, it would turn towards Old Canyon, just eight miles away. He requested a strategic PhosChek drop and staged ground crews to clear fire breaks three hours before the fire’s ETA.

On November 8, around 6 p.m., Assistant Chief Williams called for early mass evacuations for the elderly, disabled, and large animals.


69 BRAVO (11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., 20 minutes) The man who developed the upper Saddle Peak property with firefighting capabilities that is now 69 Bravo, Simon T, will talk about the LACoFD helistop, its updated technology, such as the Scripps oceanographic cameras that were installed last year, and will show dramatic videos of helicopter responses during recent fires.


AMERICAN RED CROSS (11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., 20 minutes) Local emergency and American Red Cross volunteers will present their program, PrepareU: Disaster Preparedness Education for Individuals.


NORTH TOPANGA CANYON FIRE SAFE COUNCIL (12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., 20 minutes) Co-chairs Beth Burnam and Ryan Ulyate will discuss how you can help Topanga become a more “fire-adapted” community by adopting pre-fire mitigation methods, such as hardening your home against embers and other hazards. Sign up for a free, personalized Home Ignition Zone evaluation with practical advice from trained evaluators on reducing the risk of wildfire to your home or business.


TOPANGA UNPLUGGED (12:30 p.m., 45 minutes) L.A. County Office of Emergency Management Sr. Emergency Program Manager Jeanne O’Donnell will lead a panel discussion with local experts Bryce Anderson and Chris Whalley (TCEP and DRT) on alternative sources for keeping internet, phone, and TV up when power is down; : Norm Goodkin on how to obtain a ham radio license; and Linnea Mielcarek (TCEP) about the importance of establishing a Neighborhood Network in order to be connect with people living nearby.

With thanks to participating agencies, local organizations, and vendors: LA County Office of Emergency Management, Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Department of Mental Health, Department. of Public Health, Animal Care and Control, Sheriff’s Department, and California Highway Patrol.Local agencies: Resource Conservation District, Topanga Town Council, Neighborhood Network, Topanga Animal Rescue, Topanga CERT, Arson Watch, Fire Safe Council, American Red Cross.

Independent vendors will address specialized preparedness needs, including generators, solar energy systems, solar backup batteries, survival products, medical and first aid supplies, fire-resistant landscaping, flame retardant products and more.


For more information, visit


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at

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