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It was a disaster in every sense of the word: Families were separated and unaware of where members had sought refuge. A good part of the Santa Barbara 2nd Ward was at the beach.

Telephones weren't working. Access to many of the areas threatened by the fire was restricted, leaving families unable to try to save their homes or belongings. Some families, anxious to flee the blaze, had gas tanks that were nearly empty and found long lines or no gasoline available at many local gas stations. Car keys were mislaid in the scramble to get out, wasting precious seconds, and some cars stayed in the driveway and burned when the only set of keys were with someone not at the scene.Many evacuating families found that irreplaceable photographs, journals, baby books and other family records were so scattered around their houses or garages that it was impossible to collect them all in the short time they had. Often, pets could not be found or accommodated and had to be left.

Fire victims who lost their homes and evacuees whose homes were ultimately spared offered the following advice:

1. Get a ham radio and the licenses necessary for you to be able to both receive and transmit. Take the radio with you wherever you go.

2. Never let your vehicle's gas tank get below half empty. You never know how far you may have to drive in an emergency and gasoline may not be available.

3. Keep a prioritized list of what you want to take with you if evacuation is necessary. Make those items accessible.

4. Keep some cash on hand at home for emergencies. You may need it to purchase emergency supplies of food, clothing, or to obtain lodging.

5. Include in your emergency supplies some bedding. Motel rooms were scarce in the Santa Barbara disaster, and even families who managed to find a motel room ended up with as many as 10 people in one room.

6. Keep an extra set of car keys for all the family cars in a place everyone has access to.

7. Keep negatives of old family photos and copies of family history sheets in a safe deposit box, or send copies to relatives in case you have to replace yours.

Larry Snarr, executive secretary of the Santa Barbara 3rd Ward, said, "Be prepared for any emergency. The whole stake was prepared for an earthquake; we hadn't imagined it would be a fire."