Letter Re: A Recent Fire Evacuation Experience


Last weekend my town was threatened by a pretty big fire. Dozens of homes burned, thousands of citizens were evacuated. My neighborhood was among those ordered to flee the advancing flames. (Drama!)

My family was prepared to leave ahead of time and evacuated safely in large part because of the advice and encouragement I have found at SurvivalBlog. Thank you.

I did learn a few things. Theory flies out the window when panic is in the air. What is organized and prepared ahead of time actually works, what is thrown together at the last minute tends to fall apart. I had my Bug Out Vehicle (B.O.V.) fueled and standing by the night before but many did not and I saw long lines at every gas station as people were struggling to flee. The major exits were all jammed with vehicles and as tensions rose, tempers flared. Several collisions were reported, slowing down the evacuation further. People generally remained orderly, but my spouse reports that as fire trucks and other emergency responders were making their way via siren through the crowded roads, opportunistic tailgaters would follow them. I saw none of it, as I took the less known and less traveled back woods roads out of town.

I hauled all the usual checklist items; important documents, tangible savings, family photo albums, firearms and ammunition, fuel, genset, med kit, food and water supplies, camping gear, etc. With all normal routes into and out of town barricaded we had no idea when we would be allowed back in or what we would find when we got there.

Communications broke down when concerned calls flooded in. The local paper did a bang-up job of keeping us informed using Google Maps, but when the power lines burned it was tough to get on the Internet. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone lines tied to cable service fail when the cable service substation is dependant on local power. We are considering putting in a backup “Plain Old Telephone Service” (POTS) line for emergency communications. Cell systems were overloaded as well, and it seemed the only way I could communicate with my spouse who had left work to head to our pre-arranged Bug Out Location was by relaying through an out of town relative.

I also discovered that trying to organize your assets solo while simultaneously keeping track of a small child and keeping an ear out for updates is much harder than when you have time to think in peace. Finding a way to contain the child safely and keep him entertained became a prerequisite to having my hands and mind free to load up our gear.

I am thankful that the fire was managed and most folk returned home safely. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the firefighters who saved our town and to those neighbors whose homes were lost. – Anonymous