Wildfire Evacuation Drill Saturday

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The Payson Police Department is conducting an emergency evacuation drill at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 1 in the Country Club Vista neighborhood.

"As we approach the summer months, we are concerned at the potential of a catastrophic wildfire," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said. "We believe that the areas of Vista, Snead, Hogan and Bobby Jones Roads pose an interesting and significant challenge for an evacuation effort."

Country Club Vista has been identified by the Payson Fire Department as one of the 12 neighborhoods on the town perimeter that pose the greatest hazard for wildfire.

Gartner said the department wants to test its ability to contact people in a rapid fashion and conduct an orderly and safe evacuation.

"We are going to run out a scenario as though we have gotten a phone call from the Forest Service saying we need to evacuate the neighborhood immediately," Gartner said. "We will have a field supervisor making the calls."

Those who volunteer to be evacuees will go to Rim Country Middle School where they will be treated to a barbecue, courtesy of the department and the Boy Scouts.

Gartner said residents within the drill area have been contacted by police department volunteers and will be re-contacted to see if they will be participating.

"If you have dogs or cats that would normally be evacuated with the family, it is appropriate to take them with you to the evacuation center," Gartner said.

The Red Cross and the Community Emergency Response Team will also be on hand at the evacuation center.

Gartner said officers and volunteers will provide security for the neighborhoods while the evacuation is in progress.

"We don't want what happened during the California wildfires to happen here," Gartner said. "I believe this evacuation drill will provide us with an opportunity to better prepare ourselves in the event of this type of threat."

Anyone who has questions, may call the Payson Police Department at (928) 474-5177.

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