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By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Residents and tourists in South Orange County reacted to fires and power outages in the other parts of California with sadness, concern and resolve.

Fires spread recently in Northern California and near Los Angeles, while thousands of people had power shut off as a precautionary measure against fires. Pat Arakelian empathized with those affected and said that could happen here in South Orange County.

“We’ve got a lot of mountains. I live in Laguna Woods, and it backs right up to the forest, and we could have a fire coming across someday,” said Arakelian, who was painting in the Los Rios Historic District in San Juan Capistrano and is prepared. “I have a lot of water stored.”

Dave and Anita Myers were tourists from New York visiting family in the area and walking around San Juan Capistrano. People were asking them what it was like in California.

“We just came from San Diego. We haven’t seen anything except the haze in the sky,” Dave said. “We’re just being aware of not getting into any trouble out here.”

Anita said while they understood the rationale for power shut-offs to prevent future fires, a better plan could be enacted down the road.

“Everything’s so dry out here,” Anita said. “It’s not personally affecting us, but we feel horrible for what people are going through. It hasn’t stopped us from traveling, but we’re just making sure we don’t go to that area.”

San Juan Capistrano city officials recently discussed emergency preparation plans and tips with The Capistrano Dispatch. In an emergency situation, cities report to the county, the county reports to the region, and the region then reports to the state.

Emergency Services Manager Lynn Mata mentioned numerous preparedness tips for residents, including having a go kit with important papers, making sure pets are secure and having medication on hand. The city has an emergency operations center—EOC, in emergency management lingo—at the city hall complex that can be activated if necessary. Besides mentioning the city is aware there are areas considered high fire-hazard severity zones, View was hesitant to speak on the likelihood of an emergency situation happening in San Juan Capistrano.

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