“We sent out the phone calls to all residents in the area that had signed up with the fire safety council,” said Roger Young, president of the Crescenta Valley Fire Safety Council.
Fourth-grader Katie Morrison was prepared when the call to evacuate came. She and her father Brian had talked about what to take.
“I have Guin Guin with me,” Katie said.
That was her guinea pig, who was lying comfortably on a soft towel in a paper bag. She also brought Bunny and Berry, two beloved stuffed animals.
Katie was proud of being prepared and said because of the drill she won’t be as frightened if a real order to leave happens.
One resident understood first-hand the importance of being prepared.
“I was evacuated during the 1973 fire that came over the forest. We had only lived here two years then,” Larry Meyer said.
More than 50 volunteers from the L.A. County Fire Department, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, disaster communications ham radio operators and Montrose Search and Rescue joined forces with personnel from L.A. Fire and Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station for the drill.
“This is a volunteer evacuation drill. We have over 300 homes in the area,” Sgt. Ken Binkley said during the debriefing before the event.
Fliers, letters and posters had advertised the drill throughout the neighborhood.
“I have a body posted on every corner to help guide [participants],” Binkley said.
The drill was inspired by a March meeting where Briggs Terrace residents voiced their concerns about fire evacuations. They wanted to know if fire and sheriff’s officials had a plan, and if so, how that would be executed.
“This is an important drill not only for the residents but for us as well,” said Assistant Fire Chief Luke Claus.
If it were a real evacuation there would not be volunteer personnel on every corner but instead deputies posted at the exit and entrance of the evacuated area, said Deputy Jorge Valdivia.
The drill gave residents an example of what to expect firefighters and sheriffs to do in case of evacuation and to learn about which agency is responsible for which action. Fire officials decide if and when an evacuation should occur, and local sheriffs carry out the evacuation process.
“This was a tremendous turnout,” Claus told neighbors after the drill. “Over and above what we expected. This response is a tribute to your community.”