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More on Oakmont evacuation

Dear Editor, We concur with Tom Anderson’s recent letter about the evacuation of Oakmont during the Glass fire. Evacuation of Oakmont will always be a tough one as long as Highway 12 remains a rural two-lane road between Melita and Arnold Drive.

We have only been in Oakmont for less than four years but have quickly learned to be prepared and leave early. When we left our home, we chose to go via Pythian to Highway 12, assuming 12 would be a “log jam.” This was a little before 11 p.m. It took us almost two hours to get to Highway 12. We saw no lane or traffic control the entire time we sat in traffic. With no lane control at intersections, traffic from side roads continued to congest intersections. Twice, emergency vehicles coming from the Highway 12 direction and wanting to turn left could not do so due to this congestion. As we got closer to Highway 12, we could see that traffic flow indicated that Highway 12 towards downtown was probably closed as the fire had probably already crossed 12, or was blocked as the parking lot at Calistoga Road was a marshaling point for fire crews, etc.

Generally evacuees around us did show patience and courtesy, and other than the time, evacuation did proceed smoothly, especially once we got onto Highway 12 southbound.

We understand that resources were strained beyond the norm.

Why could they have not made Highway 12 southbound two lanes with traffic control at key points including the signaled intersection at Arnold Drive?

This in no way casts any blame on those first responders who did so much to look out for our safety and won such a great battle. Only, let’s keep looking for solutions to ensure safety for all at any time when disaster lands on our doorsteps.

P.S. God bless all those who fought this fire. We left by the back door when the fire was coming in the front door. Also, let’s remember (firefighter) Mike who lost his place on St. Helena Road while fighting to save ours.

Steve and Cindy Black Oakmont

Thank you, Palooza!

Dear Editor, I would like to give a shout-out to Jeff and Suzette of Palooza. Once again they

went above and beyond during our recent fire event. They crossed the evacuation lines every day so that they could be at their restaurant to provide meals for firefighters and other emergency personnel, and to members of the community that stayed behind.

Tim Holmes Kenwood

No campfires at Sonoma Mountain Park

Dear Editor, I am writing to express my concern about the inclusion of campfires in the proposed North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, though I fully support the idea of camping.

I’m a backpacker, teach backpacking at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and lead backpacking groups for the Sierra Club. In our environment, we need to get away from associating campfires with the positive experience of camping. My husband, Steve Mullen, and I stopped having campfires years ago when we saw what was happening with climate change and increasing fire danger. In my classes and guided groups, I talk about finding other ways to enjoy the experience by using lanterns and bundling up when it’s cold. Many backpackers get their start by camping in campgrounds and sometimes have a hard time letting go of those childhood memories.

Let’s be good stewards of the environment and let people experience the joys of sleeping outside and enjoying nature without the need for fires in our relatively mild climate where we don’t need fire for survival.

We’ve lost some key camping and backpacking options due to fires in the SF Bay Area this year, including Hood Mountain, Austin Creek, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Henry Coe State Park and parts of Los Padres National Forest around Big Sur.

I welcome the addition of a new camping area but without the provision of fires.

Inga Aksamit Kenwood

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