Moraga residents prepare for disaster with wildfire evacuation drill

The terrifying scene of thousands of people trying to evacuate a fire zone at the same time is something seen far too often.

After the Tubbs and Camp Fires, the Moraga Police Department and other nearby agencies chose to prepare their cities for a mass evacuation in case of a wildfire.

The Moraga area and Paradise are eerily similar, “We are very similar to Paradise we have all the trees and our homes are built into the hills,” said Orinda police chief Mark Nagel.

Another similarity is that Moraga Way is like Paradise’s Skyway. It’s a two lane narrow road and the main evacuation route to Highway 24 if there’s an emergency. The goal of the emergency drill Saturday morning was to practice evacuating to prevent the traffic nightmare seen on Skyway during the Camp Fire.

Part of Moraga Way changed to a one way road, “Exiting and getting out of the area is key to saving lives,” said Nagel. Emergency alerts were sent out via text and radio to hundreds of residents living in the Moraga County Club area.

The drill only lasted about 20 minutes. Law enforcement and fire officials met afterwards to debrief.

“It went very well, notifications went out, people participated, it was very controlled,” said Nagel who plans to do a similar exercise in Orinda in January.