Editor: This is my observation of the recent fire — emergency first responders need to rethink their evacuation plans for the Summer Lake and Bethel Island area.
On Oct. 27, responders ordered an evacuation due to a high wind fire at the entrance to the Summer Lake homes. The only road out of this area is East Cypress Road. Once cars got onto East Cypress Road, they were stopped. The standing cars near the entrance to Summer Lake had fire embers blowing under, over and around their cars. It is nothing short of a miracle that one of them did not have a gas leak or explosion.
What happened? There was a second fire burning on Knightsen Avenue at the same time. Why was traffic stopped? At East Cypress Road and Knightsen Avenue, on the north side of the road, there is a fire hydrant with only enough parking space to accommodate one fire truck at a time, for refilling with water. However, there is a Valero Gas Station across the street.
The fire engines from the Knightsen Avenue fire used that parking lot as a staging area. Taking one truck at a time across the street to reload with water was slower than running the water hose across East Cypress to the numerous trucks parked there — a car cannot cross over a hose. Running this hose, however, blocked traffic, and the cars near the Summer Lake fire found themselves parallel to the Summer Lake fire, and their lives were endangered.
There were safer approaches that could have and should have been taken into account at these fires. There are also steps that can be taken now to prevent this problem in the future. I trust our hardworking first responders will take the time to review other possible danger areas in our community as well, and compel safety evacuation plans that will work for the safety of all, and not just the problem at hand.