One-Third Mile to Safety: A Family’s Story
Learn to Plan for Emergency Situations and Evacuations
HELENA, MONT., June 8, 2016-The story begins in 2003 with a human-caused wildfire in southern California that burned more than 280,000 acres and 2,232 homes, but most importantly and tragically, led to the untimely death of a bright, young woman named Ashleigh Roach.
Helena residents will hear the story of Ashley and her family on June 18th during the “One-Third Mile to Safety: A Family’s Story” staff ride that will begin at 9 a.m. at the Neighborhood Assembly of God Church (725 Granite Ave.) in Helena. Allyson Roach-Ashleigh’s sister-and her husband and children will be at the event in Helena, as well.
The “One-Third Mile to Safety” is the Roach family’s story-they lived one-third of a mile from their local volunteer fire department, yet not all of their family members were able to safely evacuate their home. Ashleigh Roach, age 16, was killed in the fire during the family’s evacuation.
The One-Third Mile to Safety staff ride is open to everyone and is free-of-charge (coffee/lunch will be available for purchase), and will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 18th. Participants will take a guided, 1/3-mile walk along Le Grande Cannon Blvd. and Silverette Street, stopping at several stations to hear the evacuation story from the perspective of the Roach family members. After the walk, Allyson Roach will address participants with her first-hand accounts of that day and advice on how people can prevent this from happening to their own families. Afterward, Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Dutton will discuss local evacuation procedures, and volunteer firefighters and emergency coordinators will discuss pre-season mitigation opportunities for homeowners.
“This will be a very emotional day, full of powerful and inspirational messages,” said Sonny Stiger, Tri-County FireSafe Working Group representative and retired Forest Service Fire Behavior Analyst. “It is not meant to be a light-hearted experience but it IS meant to be an experience that moves our Montana neighbors into taking action: to get prepared and ready for wildfire season, each and every year; and to evacuate if or when that call is made.”
FireSafe Montana, Tri-County FireSafe Working Group, Broadwater County, Jefferson County, Lewis and Clark County, Lewis & Clark Rural Fire Council, City of Helena, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, State Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and other partners are co-hosting the “One-Third Mile to Safety” staff ride to help share the Roach Family’s tragic story in hopes that Montana residents will be prepared if/when wildfire is near their home(s).
“No one can be too prepared,” Lori Roach said in a letter to Ravalli County residents in 2010, when they participated in a similar staff ride. “And what our experience demonstrates is that you have to have a plan. You have to have a back-up plan. You have to have a third plan. You have to have an all-holes, unplugged, extraordinary circumstances plan. In fire situations, my advice is if an evacuation order is given, go. Drop everything, go.”
For more information contact: Pat McKelvey at 459-8225, Kathy Bushnell at 495-3747, or Doris Davis at 422-6875.
*Although there will be transportation provided from the last station back to the church, people need to be able to walk at least one-third of a mile to participate in this event.*