When the fire broke out that Saturday I registered my cell phone with the Reverse 911 system and also signed up with kktv's text alerts. I was on my way home (stop light at Vindicator and Rockrimmon) when I got a text from kktv at 4:15 pm saying mandatory evacuations had been ordered. I raced home (top of Oak Valley Ranch) and found spot fires already ablaze by the quarry and the fire department on Allegheny right by the entrance to the quarry. I threw all our pre-packed stuff in the car, got the pets, got the reverse 911 call at home (4:30), and said good-bye to our house for what I thought was the last time. I got the reverse 911 call on my cell phone at 4:45 pm. While I understand the reverse 911 was not perfect in the least, I got a call on both numbers I was registered for. Because I'd been watching the fire since it broke, our stuff was packed and ready to go. The city's response wasn't perfect and I believe there are lessons to learn. I also believe that some residents did not heed the warning and were completely unprepared to evacuate - that is not the city's fault.
Let me first say that I live in Mtn Shadows and know the subdivisions and the terrain intimately. I completely agree that the city could, and should, of handled the evacuations better and that it should of happened much sooner than it did. As for the argument that the city should have done more and brought in more help sooner in fighting the fire and that would of saved hundreds of houses - not so much. Had the city brought in more help sooner, built more fire breaks, etc a few dozen more homes might have been saved but that would of been it. There were 200 ft flames that Tuesday and fire lines would of been easily jumped. The key problem was the lack of common sense in the early 90s when developers went to the city with their plans for subdivisions in the area. Houses in certain subdivisions were way too close to each other and that led to firefighters not being able to stop the spread of the fire because they had maybe 10 ft between houses and 100 ft flames. A little investigation will show that some Mtn Shadows subdivisions were destroyed almost 100%. That is the fault of the Pike Peak Building Department and City Council in the early 1990s, not the current city government.
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