Ashland holds an evacuation drill for fire season

CERT Clipboard (Shelby Reilly/News 10).

Ashland residents were able to participate in an evacuation drill this morning to go through the process of what would happen if they needed to leave their homes if there was a wildfire.

“We identified a neighborhood that we focused on just above the University, we sent out notices and we also sent out messages via our city alert system to make them more aware of the potential for an evacuation in the city,” Chris Chambers, Division Chief for Ashland Fire and Rescue, said.

Two evacuations spots were set up. One was at The Grove for people with pets, and the other was at Southern Oregon University gym for people without pets.

“I think that everyone can feel a little bit better every time we get better at this. It doesn’t mean that we’re not vulnerable, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be difficult to execute an actual evacuation because you can’t simulate people panicking,” Chambers said.

Once people arrived at the evacuation spots, they were able to sign in and fill out forms just as they would in a real-life scenario.

“There’s a lot to be learned from today and how we communicate with each other, how we organize as city staff, the police and fire and public works folks who are out here today. That part is really important for us,” Chambers said.

This was the only evacuation drill for the summer, but Chambers said they plan to have more next fire season.

Chambers also mentions they have a grant from the state for evacuation planning which will kick in during the fall.

"We figured that this was a pretty good step for this year, and that will help if we actually had to do an evacuation during this summer," Chambers said.

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