For residents of the Lake Alice community, a 200-home neighborhood that sits next to the Snoqualmie Ridge in unincorporated King County, preventing wildfires is a growing concern.
That concern is increased due to a nearby power line access road overrun by the highly flammable weed Scotch broom.
To address concerns, residents from the Lake Alice community and representatives from various public agencies are planning a public wildfire response tabletop drill, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 29, at the Fall City Fire Station.
The event is part of the Firewise Communities Program, a national initiative that promotes fire prevention and safety on a local level. Richard Werlein, a Lake Alice resident and the Firewise coordinator for the Lake Alice Community Association, said Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor suggested the community become part of the Firewise program.
“It teaches and informs the public on how to protect your home,” Werlein said. “We wanted to address the power line access road. As the (Snoqualmie) Ridge becomes more developed, communities are growing ever closer to this … road. Should the Scotch broom ignite, there will be a rapid wildfire coming right into Snoqualmie Ridge. It’s this sleeping liability that very few people know about but are concerned about.”
The Lake Alice neighborhood has only one access road in and out of the area, making an evacuation in the case of a wildfire very dangerous.
“Our community has only a single road for access and is not prepared to evacuate during a wildfire event. Now imagine the chaos and potential for loss of life should such an event occur. This training exercise will give us a well-thought-out evacuation and emergency management plan,” Werlein said in a press release.
Jeff Madden, a Firewise consultant from Carnation, said the wildfire tabletop drill at Fall City Fire Station will be an exercise for representatives from local agencies like, Fall City and Snoqualmie Fire Departments, King County Office of Emergency Management and Forestry Programs, and King Conservation District, to detail a wildfire scenario and explain how each agency would respond and react in that situation.
The audience will also be asked what they would do in this situation. Finally, the presentation will stop and break into discussion groups to analyze the situation.
“Here is a scenario, here is what the fire department can and can’t do, what are you going to do?” Madden said. “Then we break into discussion groups and come back to the main group, at the end of the whole thing we go over it all and there is always another half-hour of questions. It’s also a great way for the fire department to get to know all the residents.”
Madden said there have been two other similar presentations done in Carnation in recent years, but this would be the first hosted in Fall City. While residents from the Lake Alice community will be attending the drill, it is open to anyone interested in learning more about fire prevention and how the local organizations respond to a wildfire in this area.