Angry people in Ramona say they won't evacuate again - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Angry people in Ramona say they won't evacuate again

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RAMONA (CBS 8) - Fire season is here, but many Ramona residents say they've been burned by wildfire evacuations in the past, and they won't be going again.

It's been nearly four years since the 2007 wildfires ravaged Ramona. Residents are still not happy about they way they were treated by law enforcement when they were not allowed to return to their homes, even after the fires were out. They vented their feelings Monday at a wildfire evacuation community forum.

There is still a lot of anger around town nearly four years later. Officials are hoping they have a better evacuation plan in place to prevent a similiar nightmare.

October 25, 2007 was not a great day for hundreds of wildfire-stranded Ramona residents kept along Highway 67 by law enforcement officials. Nearly four years later, the message from first responders hasn't changed. They still want residents to leave when disaster hits.

"We're hoping today to give people the tools to be able to do what they feel is necessary to protect their home and keep their family safe," Lt. Julie Sutton of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

Several residents expressed their continued concerns to county and state officials during a packed community forum. A Ramona citizens group poll shows 65 percent will not evacuate, 61 percent have an emergency family plan, 79 percent don't know enough about a community disaster plan, and 93 percent want shelter-in place options.

"I think the experiences of the last evacuation have made a lot of people in Ramona gun shy. Additionally, a lot of people were able to save their homes because they didn't evacuate," Bob Krysak of Committee for a Better Ramona said.

Longtime Ramona resident Joe Zenovic says he's certainly not willing to repeat the past.

"I don't want to be prevented from driving around Ramona after the next fire because the police have roadblocks up and tack strips down and concertina wire up on (Highway) 67 to keep residents out. That isn't right," Zenovic said.

The biggest improvement for residents is the fine tuning of the county's reverse 9-1-1 system. They say it's now more precise in terms of which areas should be notified of impending danger.

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