The Blue Ridge fire has vastly affected the Orange County community. Meanwhile, the Fullerton Police Department has done its part in assisting local fire departments.
PIO Corporal Bill Phu of the Fullerton Police Department was able to share some information on what exactly his department was doing to help.
Officer Phu said that the department sent a plethora of officers to assist the Orange County sheriff. They took part in many tasks such as assisting in evacuations. They would especially help out in evacuating people with disabilities and control traffic as well. Additionally, they maintained security for the evacuated homes as a lot of times criminals try to burglarize homes during times like this.
Officer Phu mentioned that if a resident is told that they are mandated to leave their house, and the resident chooses not to leave, then there is not much they can do about it. They could not force the resident to leave their house, it’s just a strong recommendation.
The officers were not working hand-in-hand with the firefighters confronting the fire. It was two separate commands on how to successfully tackle and contain it.
Officer Phu used this analogy, “On a football team you’re all one team listening to one coach, but you have an offense coach and a defensive coach. The offense is doing their own plays and the defense is doing their plays. Ultimately they’re one team working together but it’s not like they’re standing on the same line.”
The Fullerton Police Department was not directly in charge of the evacuation and it was not their main operation, but Officer Phu did say that he can only imagine how difficult it was to create safe environments and places for people to stay while following COVID-19 guidelines. He said that one of the issues was being able to find enough places to keep people safe. Taking the current pandemic into consideration, a typical community center that can hold 1,000 people can now possibly only hold 300 to 500 people to continue to maintain social distancing.
Officer Phu mentioned that there are no more Fullerton officers assisting in the Blue Ridge fire as of right now. They were directed from Cal Fire that their assistance wasn’t needed anymore but much appreciated.