Wildfires a real threat

(Editor's note: This is a copy of a letter mailed to King County Transportation Community Relations about the proposed Mount Si Bridge replacement project.)

The notice I received concerning rebuilding the existing Mount Si Road Bridge leads me to believe a very serious oversight is being committed by King County.

The problem is not that the existing bridge should be "realigned," but that a second bridge must be built to protect the rapidly increasing population and expensive new homes being built on the Mount Si Road.

As a former commissioner of King County Fire District No. 38 and member of the North Bend Fire Department, I must bring to your attention the fact that the residents along this road are in clear danger of wildfire during the summer months when westerly winds blow out of Snoqualmie Pass through the Upper Snoqualmie Valley at sustained speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour for days on end.

Were the single bridge over the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to be blocked or the Mount Si Road cut off during a full-blown wildfire, firefighting equipment could not reach this area, nor could residents flee. There is no other way in or out.

With the current buildup of structures in this area, the situation is identical to that of parts of California that have been devastated by wildfire, where the only thing that has prevented heavy loss of life and even greater property damage has been alternative exits, both for persons fleeing the fires and egress for fire-fighting equipment.

The Mount Si Road area has experienced serious forest fires in the recent past. The latest required nearly a week to contain and the only thing that prevented a disaster was lack of a wind and rapid access by fire-fighting equipment.

Clearly, with the arrival of many new residents the situation now existing on the Mount Si Road is a disaster waiting to happen, and it is imperative that a second bridge be built.

The cost of removing the present steel bridge should be applied to building a second bridge, now.

Ernest C. Jenner

North Bend

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