This summer has been full of news about fires. We had our own scare here in Oakhurst with the Aug. West Fire that started on John West Road off Crane Valley Road (426).
Thanks to the professional work of fire teams, we escaped with no loss of structures or lives. It may be only a matter of time before we experience the devastation other communities have experienced. Insurance will help replace our structures and property but are we prepared to make sure lives can be protected?
During the West Fire, John West Road was closed so firefighters could access the area and bring in equipment. Residents further up John West have no improved exit route and in some cases, were told to go back to their homes. One mother looking for a way out with her young child was directed to an old dirt road leading to Indian Springs Road.
Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler has the county looking at how to create alternate improved routes out of the John West area to avoid any unnecessary loss of lives due to a fire. Perhaps it's time to seriously consider additional safe exit routes for emergencies, before it's too late.
Joe Smith, Oakhurst