Alarming Fire

December 1, 2008

Tuesday night’s COWncil meeting was interrupted by news of a fire breaking out at 232 Glenwood Avenue, in the Glens neighborhood of Woodside. The house is actually quite near to Mayor Ron Romines home and pretty darn close to where COWncilmember Dave Tanner used to hang his hat.

The COWncil meeting was delayed by ten minutes while sirens blared past on their way to the fire. Later Mayor Romines called a recess because he got a call about the fire and was concerned for his property. The fire was reported to be under control by Mayor Romines after he returned from his phone call. While details on the fire are still sketchy, we understand that the house is currently vacant and the owners live out of state. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

We are all very glad that the fire was brought under control quickly, and praise the quick action of our Woodside Fire Protection District. We’re glad that Mayor Romines and his neighbors are safe. We are however VERY concerned about what could have been, and about several comments we herd during the COWncil meeting.

First of all Dave Tanner mentioned that that part of the Glens is very close to a critical junction of Glenwood, and if there were ever a major fire that required evacuation of the Glens, ALL traffic would have to be funneled out on Laning Drive. And of course, the reverse is true as well – if Laning backed up, all traffic would have to come out on Glenwood, while fire trucks would be trying to get in on the narrow roads which Fire Marshal Denise Enea has declared to be inadequate.

Discussion of the 2008-09 Work Plan including the Fire Management Plan highlighted the fact that, as Mayor Romines said, much of Woodside is overgrown and brushier than it has been in years. The COWncil has talked about increasing fire protections throughout the Town, but has yet to act. We hope that this serves as a wakeup call to the COWncil.

Fire Marshal Enea has registered her strong concerns and worry about Woodside’s fire danger, and we are concerned as well. What if this fire had happened a month ago? Two months ago? We were very lucky that there has been some rain and the temperatures have dropped. Had this fire broken out during the height of the dry season, the outcome could have been very different. A scenario similar to the Oakland Hills fire could happen here. Hopefully the necessary actions will be taken by the COWncil and by each of us on our own property before a tragedy befalls us.

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