Getting Life: We weren't ready to evacuate are you?

Published: Sunday, July 15 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

The Quail Fire in Alpine continues to burn on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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ALPINE — We could still see pockets of smoke on the mountain as we drove into the parking lot for church services last Sunday morning.

But with the Quail Fire 90-percent contained, we were all breathing a little easier. Living at the base of the mountain, our entire church community was in the evacuation zone on July 3 when fire broke out in the foothills of Alpine, Utah. Most of us returned to our homes the next day, July 4, but the only fireworks we watched were 100-foot pine trees bursting into flames like giant Roman candles, the branches clearly visible from our front lawns, as the mountain burned.

Ironically, even though our local ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did an emergency drill a few months ago and held a “no-electricity” drill recently, we were not as prepared as a Mormon ward as we would have hoped for the evacuation.

While individual families loaded cars and talked to neighbors, several block captains assigned to contact their neighbors in an emergency were at work when the fire broke out at 2 p.m., and spouses scrambling to evacuate their homes and children weren’t always good backups. A few leaders were out of town, so key information never got past voicemail. Some members (like me) assigned to watch out for one another as visiting and home teachers were unavailable to in the chaos. While neighbors stepped up and other leaders filled in, we were painfully aware of the glitches in our community communication system as well as holes in our personal preparations.

At our “after-action review” at a ward council on the Sunday after the fire, plans were made to address the issues at a ward level. Some things we learned we could do better at a personal level included:

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