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Evacuation drill planned in La Crescenta

The exercise will affect residents in the Briggs Terrace area, according to fire officials.

July 18, 2009|By Mary O’Keefe

LA CRESCENTA — Fire officials Thursday announced plans for an Aug. 1 evacuation drill for residents in the Briggs Terrace area of La Crescenta in response to a spate of fires in the Angeles National Forest.

The drill and proceeding public fire safety meeting were part of a report to the Crescenta Valley Town Council Thursday night in which officials said years of drought and dry vegetation, combined with numerous fires in the surrounding mountains, have brought fire season to the forefront early this summer.

The evacuation drill will be conducted in conjunction with the town council, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station and the Crescenta Valley Fire Safe Council.

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“It will allow residents to practice and become aware of what happens when they are asked to evacuate,” said Stephanie English, Los Angeles County Fire Department Division III spokeswoman.

Residents above Rockdale Street in the Briggs Terrace area will be most directly effected by the drill, but all community members are invited to join at a safety meeting conducted after the evacuation is complete. English did not reveal the exact location of the center because, she said, the drill needed to be as realistic as possible.

The center’s location will be announced the morning of the evacuation.

“We will have sheriff deputies and explorers that will be able to direct anyone interested in attending the fire safety discussion to the evacuation center. All you have to do is drive up Briggs Avenue and ask a deputy where you need to meet,” English said.

The Briggs Terrace area comprises neighborhoods of narrow, winding roads beset with heavy vegetation. In 2007, a fire destroyed a home that was surrounded by trees and vegetation. While 15 fire units responded to the Shields Street home, there was confusion among residents about whether they would be evacuated.

“That was 15 units for one home, imagine if more homes were effected. Our Fire Safety Council has identified 500 homes in that area that are vulnerable,” said Roger Young, president of the fire council.

He and La Crescenta resident Kim Mattersteig have been the driving force behind the evacuation plan that began with a meeting in April. Mattersteig, a resident of Briggs Terrace and an insurance agent, organized the initial neighborhood meeting. English attended the meeting and heard worried neighbors speak about the fire danger in their area and demand to know what type of evacuation plan was in place.

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