What’s the plan for ‘next time?’

Regarding our emergency services, sheriff, fire, rescue, et al.

The fire season, with Santa Ana winds, is coming again very soon and we have suffered through two rather recent devastating fires.  It is my understanding that the emergency services have had strategy meetings to plan how we should react in a major disaster.

I have waited for the details on what is expected of us, the citizens of Ramona — and I have waited and waited and waited. I come from 35 years in law enforcement and have worked with and alongside these folks and consider them comrades. But let me relate some stories of our latest 2007 fire.

I had four separate law enforcement cars down my drive, telling me that I had to evacuate, that it was “mandatory.” I told them I was in law enforcement in this county and knew that was not so. I planned to stay and protect my house.

They said “Oh, OK, be safe,” and left me be. The neighbors next to me did as told but asked about the animals and were told that Animal Rescue would take care of them. They never showed and were probably never advised. The neighbors were kept away for about a week and it was my tractor with buckets of water and feed that kept the animals alive.

I am fully aware that soldiers, cops, and firefighters cannot be allowed to run about, willy-nilly, on skirmishes without some coordination from the planners who are looking at the larger picture. It’s a good way to get killed and/or lose equipment.

But I saw many “staging” areas with fire rigs sitting in sight of burning houses. There may be an explanation, but the simple question remains. Why not throw some of the wet stuff on the red stuff?

So, being told to leave town, everyone got on Highway 67 and came to a stop in the bottleneck. Some of those folks sat in the idling car so long that they ran out of gas. (I cannot explain why they chose not to turn off the key.) Now we have a stalled car in the traffic lane.

It gets better. Told that they must leave their homes, they were not told to turn off their water mains. If their house burned, the water would gush from the remains of the house and the system would eventually lose pressure for any surviving houses. And it did.

Nobody would deny that this is a rural community, lots of horses and other livestock. Keep the people away from their homes and animals because a “one size fits all” answer did quite a disservice to my neighbors.  There are many stories where one or two people stayed home and saved several houses by using a garden hose.

All that said, many people in Ramona have now said, “I am not leaving.” That probably includes some folks who have not prepared their property for wildfires, and resources will be diverted to save some nut with a wet gunny sack trying to do the impossible. This puts firefighters and equipment in unnecessary danger.  But I’m afraid this will happen too often “Next time.”

So, the reason for this letter is: WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO? Tell us your plan. Make us your allies.

Does the rule still stand that if we leave while the fire runs through, that we cannot return until someone in the command center decides?

Respectfully, I await your reply. (We all get a copy of this newspaper, even if we don’t make the strategy meetings in town.) Thank you.

Jerry Meloche


Related posts:

  1. Most plan to stay in Ramona in next disaster
  2. Water board waives fire rules in disasters
  3. Forest service works on Cedar Creek plan, ranger tells planners
  4. Plan B, building a Ramona-style network
  5. San Diego council endorses SDG&E power shut-off plan

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=18151

Posted by Karen Brainard on Oct 9 2012. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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