Berry Creek Fire Safe Council concerned over wildfire evacuation route

A portion of Berry Creek's evacuation route is still under construction. Now members of the Berry Creek Fire Safe Council are sounding the alarm.

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 3:01 PM

BERRY CREEK, Calif. - Many people living in Berry Creek say they are very worried about the upcoming fire season.

They watched what happened with the evacuation on the Skyway, and now, they are sounding the alarm about their own evacuation route.

A portion of Oro Quincy Highway has been washed-out since early 2017. If a fast-moving, ember-driven wildfire were to rip through the area, neighbors say they would only have one good route to evacuate. And a fire could block them in.

The Butte County Public Works Department says the Oro Quincy washout is a Federal project. Fourteen years ago, under the Federal Highway Administration, a section of the highway was paved and widened.

In those 14 years, that section of road has failed three times. It's a $2 million project, and the county had to wait for the federal government to hand over the money to fix it.

The Berry Creek Fire Safe Council is opening the lines of communication within the community. Members want everyone to know all of their options. Pastor Don Rau, a member of the council, lives on the top floor of the Whispering Pines Chapel just a few miles down the mountain from the washout. He says the Camp Fire heightened his sense of urgency.

“It did change because they had the same issue that we're concerned about," Rau said. "It was the access out, and so many people, you watch it on TV, and you see people literally getting out of their cars and running for dear life because there was nowhere to go. And of course, there's no access this way because of the road collapsing here a few years ago. They're working on that, but they're not done yet.”

“We are being overlooked. We really need help. We really need a way out," said council member Denise Bethune. "I’d hate to see the lives we lost. It only takes one tree to go into that road and it would be chaos. I would hate to see the lives we could lose with that.”

Berry Creek was one of the first communities evacuated during the Camp Fire, but the wind blew the flames in another direction, and the community was spared.

Council member Joan Carter says it’s only a matter of time before Berry Creek burns. She refers to what she saw with the aggressive speed of the Camp Fire.

“Those people had no time,” she said. “One of the people that I know that I work with, it took her an hour to go four blocks because it was total gridlock. They were panic-stricken, and we’re basically panic-stricken too. If we can’t get out of here, we have to learn how to fight a fire. We're the island in the storm. We've had the Carr fire, we've had fires all around us, and we’re what’s left. Sooner or later we are going to burn.

Construction on this road is expected to wrap in September.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 122168

Reported Deaths: 4444
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles596922532
Riverside8303345
San Diego7798283
Orange6783165
San Bernardino5650209
Alameda364197
Santa Clara2850144
San Francisco264443
Imperial249330
Kern246245
San Mateo224484
Tulare208392
Fresno194437
Santa Barbara171414
Contra Costa154738
Sacramento149058
Ventura119035
Kings11876
San Joaquin102436
Stanislaus79230
Monterey62110
Sonoma5934
Solano55922
Marin52517
Merced3107
San Luis Obispo2881
Placer2599
Santa Cruz2192
Yolo21624
Madera1293
Napa1263
Humboldt1044
El Dorado980
San Benito962
Butte601
Nevada491
Sutter482
Del Norte470
Shasta404
Mono371
Mendocino330
Yuba311
Lake300
Inyo201
Glenn170
Calaveras160
Mariposa161
Amador100
Siskiyou90
Colusa70
Tehama61
Tuolumne50
Lassen50
Plumas40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 78°
Oroville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 74°
Paradise
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 78°
Chester
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 51°
Red Bluff
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 71°
Willows
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 78°
We're finally seeing some relief from the heat on the way for your Friday. We'll be around 10 degrees cooler than Thursday on Friday and clouds will be returning for your afternoon. Much cooler with the chance for active weather on the way for your weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events