San Carlos to hold wildfire evacuation drill Saturday

As the brush dries out and the wind picks up, firefighters in San Carlos want to make sure they're not taking any chances. They've scheduled a fire evacuation drill for tomorrow.

The plan is to simulate a stressful situation to see how first responders and residents react. 

The Gray's home in the hills of San Carlos gives them two things: an amazing view, and a high risk of fire danger.

So they say they welcome Saturday's planned evacuation drill.

Ian Gray says, "I think it's a great idea. It's overdue. I think we are vulnerable with the amount of brush that's in the canyons around here."

Carol Gray says, "It's just a question of when is it going to happen. So knowing how to get out is probably the best thing."

Recent wildfires like the one in Paradise, highlighted how difficult evacuating can be, especially in hilly areas with few ways in and out.

In San Carlos, the fire department decided to put their protocols to the test.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Pucci of the Redwood City/San Carlos Fire Department says, "It's important that people practice what they do under stress."

He adds, "The participants do not know where they're going to be asked to go to and they're not going to know which route to take. So that will be part of the message that they receive in the morning. And part of the test is how well they follow those directions."

The directions will come at 7 a.m. Saturday by phone and text message, but only for the 50 or so people in the Crestview neighborhood that signed up to participate.

Afterward, there will be a debrief to see what worked.

Pucci says, "To make sure we effectively communicated with the community, make sure the messaging was communicated in a way that was easy to follow. We're going to look for traffic choke points."

In this neighborhood, the Grays suspect there may be a few. But they say they've already got their evacuation route planned.

Ian Gray says, "We've got an option, we turn left or we turn right. Left is downhill so that's where we're going to go."

Redwood City/San Carlos Firefighters actually got the idea from a similar drill in the Orinda Moraga area. 

Residents are also being encouraged to sign up for the San Mateo County Alert System if they haven't already, so first responders know how to reach them. Tomorrow's drill will likely be the first of several.