California fires a lesson for West Glacier?

Print Article

A description of the devastating wildfire in California raises similar concerns about public safety in West Glacier as a result of Glacier Park Inc.’s huge RV development with one-entrance-one exit on River Bend Drive. At a meeting of the West Glacier Community Preservation Association last summer these concerns were expressed to GPI’s CEO, Ron Cadrette. Cadrette assured the group that GPI had “expert” security people who were well prepared to handle such situations and would direct traffic in the event of an emergency evacuation.

Let me just recount descriptions of the disaster in Paradise, California, where the town was destroyed and lives lost:

“There was only one way out of Paradise for residents fleeing the fire, a four-lane road known as Skyway which quickly became paralyzed by traffic, a situation similar to what residents of Malibu encountered along the Pacific Coast Highway, another choke point . . . It’s one way in and one way out, so there was no way to avoid the fire when trying to leave. There were cars behind, cars in front and fire on both sides ... Frantic residents, encircled by choking dense smoke and swirling embers, ran out of gas and ditched their cars. Fire crews used giant earthmovers to plow abandoned vehicles off the road as if they were snowdrifts after a blizzard.”

Paradise had an emergency evacuation plan that had been rehearsed more than a year before this fire, but as panic set in “any idea of an orderly evacuation fell apart.”

This should raise concerns in West Glacier and Flathead County about what could happen here in the likely event of future wildfires. The lives of residents and visitors to Glacier National Park may depend on it.

James W. Clarke

West Glacier

Print Article

Read More Letters to the Editor

Endowment thanks

August 07, 2019 at 7:48 am | Hungry Horse News On behalf of the Wildc/kat Athletic Endowment Association I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the Columbia Falls community for your attendance and support at the WAEA Auction, barbecue, and gol...

Comments

Read More

Lucky to be alive

August 07, 2019 at 7:39 am | Hungry Horse News A few days ago I was struck by a car in the crosswalk at the often chaotic and potentially lethal intersection between the Motel and Cafe in West Glacier. Mike and John from Glacier Raft, and anothe...

Comments

Read More

Sun Road reconstruction was far from a sure thing

July 24, 2019 at 6:27 am | Hungry Horse News I’d like to congratulate Glacier National Park on completing the Going-to-the-Sun Road rehabilitation. A feat to be celebrated both for the restoration of the road and the fact that the public may...

Comments

Read More

Traffic is getting to her

July 17, 2019 at 7:51 am | Hungry Horse News Summer is here and I know all of us in the valley are aware of the influx of people from out of town that support our local businesses, our national park, and our communities. I also think most of u...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2019 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X