The Jacob City Fire that recently burned over 4,100 acres in Soldier Canyon stirred up questions about the county’s evacuation plan in the case of a large-scale emergency.
The Tooele County Comprehensive Emergency Management plan was created by the Tooele County Emergency Management Department and highlights detailed plans for evacuation.
“We have the county split up into zones,” Bucky Whitehouse, Emergency Management director explained. “For each zone, there is a designated preferred route for people to use for evacuations.”
Although the plan highlights a route out of the county, there may be changes depending on the type of emergency.
“Sometimes it might be appropriate for us to direct people in a different direction than we would otherwise,” Whitehouse said. “It’s emergency specific… If there is an earthquake, we would direct our citizens west. If we sent them east into the Salt Lake Valley, we know the damage would be worse, so they would need to go west.”
Should there be a necessary evacuation, the wireless emergency alert system will be used. This means that an alert with specific instructions of where to go and when to do so will be sent to each resident’s cellphone.
The Emergency Management team will also use the radio and the county siren system to alert residents.
“If and when we ever had to evacuate, we would use multiple methods to let citizens know they need to evacuate,” Whitehouse said.
If an evacuation is necessary but parts of the county are considered safe, there will be shelters set up at schools and churches for those who don’t have family or friends to stay with.
An evacuation center could also be set up if there isn’t a need for individuals to stay overnight.
“An evacuation center is a place where people can visit to get information related to what is happening and what we need to happen to keep everybody safe,” Whitehouse said.
When the Soldier Canyon Fire started on July 9, around eight residents and individuals camping and living in the area were evacuated and sent to an LDS church in Stockton that had been converted into an evacuation center.
To prepare for an emergency, individuals should have food, water, money, important documents, and extra clothing ready to go at all times, because if an emergency occurs, evacuation might need to be immediate.
“We encourage everyone to have evacuation kits in their households that contain anything from food supplies, to clothing, to money, and we also want them to have their important records quickly accessible to them, so they can grab them in a hurry and go,” Whitehouse explained.
Important records include identification, medical documents, tax information, insurance records, and birth certificates, among others.
To see all that is included in an evacuation kit and learn more about evacuation, please download the Tooele Ready App, available on both the Android and Apple app stores.