california wildfires 2019 New York Times
Millions of Californians are affected by this year's wildfire season. (Image courtesy the New York Times)

A&E Exclusive: The 2019 California Wildfires’ Impact on the Recognition Industry


The past several years have seen a new set of wildfires that disrupt the state of California. And as in years past, those currently burning have an impact on the recognition industry. 

What used to typically occur in the autumn months, wildfire season has lately run through winter into the spring. With just about 6,000 fires having wreaked havoc throughout the Golden State so far in the 2019 season, millions of people have been affected. Several fires continue to burn, while others have been contained. 

From losing power for almost a week on end, to having to evacuate their homes, many Californians are in disarray. However, according to the New York Times, this year’s fires have been less destructive and deadly compared to the two years prior. The fire departments have been quicker to order evacuations and have put more crews and aircraft on standby. 

Big power companies committed to intentional blackouts as part of a strategy to prevent wildfires caused by their equipment. One power company, PG&E, made history when it cut off power to 3 million people on October 26. 

Of those millions was Simi Valley-based American Trophies & Awards. Owners Ross and Michelle Liddell tell A&E that they were without power for several days while also being under evacuation orders from their home. The shop was able to reopen on Friday, November 1.  

“We’ve been impacted in both our business and personal lives; however, we (and all of our team members) are safe, and that’s truly the most important thing,” says Michelle Liddell. “This was the first time that our shop has been impacted so severely by something like this, so while we were prepared, it was still a new experience for us.”

Michelle adds they had experience with another fire in their community last fall, but that one did not impact the shop. “We feel that planning, effective communication, and creative solutions were instrumental for our company during this time,” Liddell states. 

Another shop feeling the effects is D&S Awards, based in Santa Rosa, California. Owner Dennis Wilkinson explains that though they were impacted, it is not nearly as bad as 2017.

“The fire was a bit further north this time, so while our store was closed Monday through Wednesday with no gas, it never lost power,” says Wilkinson. When he and his employees came in on Thursday, October 31, the gas was on and they were able to open for business as usual with no real smoke damage this time. 

Wilkinson elaborates, “Much of the home savings was because of all the mandatory evacuations that got people out of the way ahead of time and a couple thousand fire fighters, law enforcement from over 140 agencies, and the national guard (coming) in to watch over evacuated areas.”

If your business or home was impacted in any way from the fires in California, please contact A&E at (720) 566-7247 or jschroeder@nbm.com. This is a developing story. 

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