FORESTHILL (CBS13) — When the Camp Fire tore through the town of Paradise, a lack of roads leading out prevented people from getting to safety.
A new analysis by the USA Today/California Network shows many Northern California communities have a serious, potentially dangerous lack of evacuation routes. On that list is the Placer County community of Foresthill where there’s only one main road in and out.
In Foresthill, Foresthill Road is a lifeline for people. If an evacuation were ordered, thousands of people leaving would inevitably cause a traffic jam. And if the fire were to cut off access to this road, people would be on their own.
Foresthill resident John Michelini remembers the Trailhead Fire and knows exactly how much danger his family could be in.
“It’s going to be tough to get people down off of this hill and into a safe area,” Michelini said.
So Michelini and others focus on prevention, like clearing dead brush from the trees.
“You can see that there’s some stuff that’s been cut down. We are in the process of removing the last of the manzanita. Because manzanita is a very dangerous fuel that burns with a really high intensity,” Michelini said, pointing to areas in his back yard.
Foresthill fire chief Kirk Kushen is setting the same example. He’s taking advantage of a country program that helps people dispose of dead brush.
One of the things Kushen is most concerned about is access to back up during a wildfire.
“We’re relying on resources from out of the area coming in. If the road is cut off or our access is cut off that presents an entirely different challenge,” he said.
Kushen said when fire blocked roads in Paradise, a lot more attention was drawn to the possibility of the same problem in Foresthill
“Our priority is life safety we are going to do everything possible proactively to be prepared for that event,” he said.
Kushen urges people to sign up for emergency alerts online or on your phone as the dry season approaches.