“When the fire hit our community, I immediately called 911…then put out a ‘one-call’ emergency alert to evacuate,” said Bridgette Conboy, office manager at Rancho Monserate Country Club, a 55-plus resident-owned, up-scale mobile home park, located just east of Rt. 15. She was referring to the unforgettable Lilac fire of December 7, 2017.
“No one in our community will ever forget that date,” Bridgette stated. “We really didn’t have an evacuation plan, but we did have residents on our Emergency Committee and others (including retired firefighters and policemen) who took it upon themselves to go door-to-door, alert their neighbors of the out-of-control blaze, and assist those who needed help to evacuate.”
Thus, when firefighters reached the upscale mobile home park, rather than having to focus solely on evacuating residents, they were able to begin fighting the fire; as a result, as pointed out by NCFPD Fire Chief Steve Abbott, while 75 homes were lost…”it would have been far worse had the residents of Rancho Monserate not taken it upon themselves to mobilize when the fire broke out.”
“Fire is really scary,” Bridgette stated. “When I tried to get to my car to leave the premises, the wind was so strong that it was difficult to even stand up. I looked to my left and saw the smoke; I looked to my right, one home was engulfed in flames and the fire department was dropping retardant.”
What did Bridgette learn from this horrific experience?
“While our community has a “one-call system” designed to send out an alert by phone to all of our residents, obviously, it can’t call everyone at the same time. We need to find a system that will alert everyone at the same time; AND that is more complicated that it may appear, since this is a senior community and many of our residents are hard of hearing.” Chief Abbott adds, “This is why registering your phones and mobile devices with AlertSanDiego is so critical in keeping up to date with emergency information and evacuation instructions.
She said, further, that the Lilac fire has left many of the residents at Rancho Monserate somewhat paranoid, including her. “Every time the wind starts blowing hard, I’m now uneasy and so are many of our residents. The fire department was conducting a controlled fire not long ago; residents in the community smelled smoke, saw the flames…then panicked.
“Most all, however, I learned that we have really good people in this park, Bridgette concluded, “and that our fire department in Fallbrook is comprised of extremely competent and well-trained firefighters and paramedics. Cleary, we are in excellent hands.”