Wildfire Evacuation Drill Scheduled Saturday

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If you see police and fire vehicles swarming the area around Pinon Ridge and Elk Ridge Saturday, don't panic.

The town is going to be running a disaster drill from 9 a.m. until approximately noon Saturday, April 8.

Residents of streets north and south off Phoenix Street between South Sycamore and South Deer Born could be affected.

The police and fire departments will not involve the homeowners in the area as much as they did for the last drill, "but there will be lots of us up there so there may be some inconvenience," said Payson Police Chief Gordy Gartner.

"A few years ago, we tried to run one where people would actually participate in the evacuation. We realized that really is an inconvenience for most folks and most folks wouldn't want to give up their Saturday for that purpose."

There will not be alarms going off that people will hear, but there will be officials going door to door, talking to residents who happen to be home.

According to Gartner, the evacuation drill involves the fire department making a call for immediate evacuation of the neighborhood within a two to four-hour time frame.

In the scenario created for this drill, a wildfire has just begun to enter the area from the south.

"We are forecasting out to June with multiple dry lightning strikes occurring south of the neighborhood causing several fires that are being fanned by high winds coming in from the south fed by dense chaparral and manzanita bushes," Gartner said.

They may tag the area with blue ribbons to signify if they would have been able to safely evacuate a residence had the drill been an actually call for evacuation.

In running an evacuation drill, Gartner said, "we are working on our ability to get people out of an area as quick as possible."

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