This is a guest post by Tom Daly.
When a wind-driven wildfire bears down on your neighborhood, you may only have a few minutes to safely evacuate. Wildfires over the last several years have often blocked the normal vehicular route residents use every day or may find those routes clogged with much more than routine traffic.
So, having a secondary evacuation route should be part of your planning. In the Mt. Rose corridor, housing developments were often planned and approved without those secondary routes or are constrained by closed and locked gates, which complicates the evacuation process.
More recently, the planned Ascente development south of Mt. Rose Highway and east of Callahan Road now owned by Toll Brothers, has exacerbated the problem by blocking the formerly unobstructed secondary access route for both the Fawn Lane neighborhood and the adjacent Callahan Ranch neighborhood. The Brushwood Way (Callahan Ranch) to Fawn Lane connection was blocked by Toll Brothers in July with boulders on the Brushwood Way end.
On Wednesday 7/20/2022 Assistant County Manager Solaro advised me than within two weeks those boulders on Brushwood Way would be replaced by a gate, openable in an emergency, to allow those residents to have their second evacuation route restored. What has happened since? No gate at Brushwood Way as of August 10th.
A second barrier, a temporary fence and gate, chained and padlocked, was later installed at the end of the paved portion of Fawn Lane. Now two barriers to escape for Fawn Lane and Callahan Ranch residents exist.
In a further conversation on Thursday 7.28.2022 with Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro, he advised me that those current and future gates will only be openable by the developer (Toll Bros staff), the Sheriff and his CERT group or TMFPD units. Good luck with that happening in the middle of the night with a wind-driven wildfire roaring down the mountain into those neighborhoods.
At my meeting on August 9th with County Manager Brown, he committed his Emergency Manager to bring forward a solution to this problem in the near term. Manager Brown also indicated that TMFPD Chief Moore is also working this problem. Let’s hope those solutions are implemented before the next wildfire.
Developers’ interests once again trump public safety.
Thomas Daly is a resident of Washoe County and his community is adjacent to the Ascente development.