Sonoma County holds wildfire evacuation drill to prepare residents

The air in Sonoma County was clear Saturday morning.

There was no smoke and a fire isn't destroying homes, but the memories from the 2017 North Bay fires linger.

"Everybody up here is pretty nervous anytime we can smell smoke or there's a high wind," said resident Monna Throop.

She is one of thousands who ran from the raging wildfires two years ago and said evacuating then was chaotic.

"Load up cats that were panicked because I was panicked, trying to find carriers, get everything together and get out like what are we going to do?"

Throop never wants to feel that panic again, so next time she'll be prepared thanks to an evacuation drill in Sonoma County.

"It gives the community an opportunity to actually practice what they might be asked to do in a real emergency," said Chief Steve Akre from Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue.

Sonoma County, fire and law enforcement officials worked together to create this drill focused on the Mayacamas area.

It's one of many high fire risk areas in the county with limited roads, heavy vegetation and a history of fires.

As part of the drill, a unique siren blared from Sonoma County Sheriff's cars, one you'll only hear when you have to evacuate.

Land line and cellphone alerts also went out. Residents who signed up for the drill left their homes, followed the evacuation routes and ended up at the Hanna Boys Center where they were greeted by the Red Cross and other community members to answer questions.

The next step is to hold the same event in other parts of the county, but Christopher Godly with Sonoma County Emergency Management said you can start planning now, "They themselves can get organized and be prepared to evacuate if they needed to."