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The Red Table Fire near Sylvan Lake in Eagle County serves as an important reminder of the need to be wildfire prepared, according to Vail public safety officials. This means having defensible space around property and being prepared to evacuate, if needed.
The Vail Police and Fire departments will be testing the town’s evacuation plans during a neighborhood exercise that will take place as part of the town’s community picnic on Tuesday, Aug. 9. In the meantime, emergency response officials are posing the following questions: Do you have a family evacuation plan? Have you reviewed Vail’s evacuation plan at vailgov.com/evac to know what to do?
During the “Cougar Ridge” training exercise from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 9, responders will simulate a wildfire that could threaten nearby homes in the Matterhorn and Highland Meadows neighborhoods, located on the south side of Interstate 70.
Travelers should expect to see numerous first responder vehicles in and around Vail as part of the exercise, which will test real-time emergency response and coordination between fire agencies, law enforcement and various support agencies. Variable message signs will be in place to notify residents that an exercise is taking place. The focus of the exercise will be on public notification and evacuation.
Residents from the neighborhoods are encouraged participate in the evacuation scenario and will be alerted by uniformed law enforcement officers during a door-to-door canvass of the area. Properties will also be notified via the Everbridge emergency notification system activated by the Vail Public Safety Communications Center and to subscribers of Eagle County Alert at ecalert.org.
Other community wide notifications will be tested during the exercise, including the @VailPolice Twitter and Facebook account, vailgov.com website, cable Channel 10 and Vail’s emergency hotline at 970-479-2226.
A simulated evacuation center will be established at Donovan Pavilion to test coordination of the check-in process. This component of the exercise coincides with the town’s community picnic which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members of the community are invited to stop by the pavilion for lunch and to learn more about wildfire readiness and the town’s evacuation plan.
Responding agencies taking part in the Cougar Ridge training include: Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Vail Police Department, Vail Public Safety Communications Center, Vail Transit, Eagle County Office of Emergency Management and Eagle County Paramedic Services.
In addition to familiarizing themselves with Vail’s evacuation plan, community members are encouraged to visit readycolorado.com for preparedness information and to sign up to receive emergency alerts, notifications and updates at ecalert.org.
The Cougar Ridge evacuation exercise follows a similar training held in Vail last August in which residents of the Potato Patch neighborhood on the north side of Interstate 70 participated in a voluntary evacuation. The exercise tested Vail’s mutual aid agreements with partner agencies in simulating a wildfire, door-to-door evacuations, a mock structure fire and public alerts.
For details on the upcoming Cougar Ridge training, contact the Police Department at 970-479-2210