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Scouts evacuated safely from fire

Jeff Clemetson, Sierra Sun

Some Bay Area and Reno/Tahoe Boy Scouts learned just how important it is to “be prepared” when they were evacuated from the Marin Sierra Campground to the Sierra Mountain Middle School in Truckee on Monday.

Ironically, the evacuation took place just as the campers were preparing for a scheduled fire drill.

“Usually there’s a fire drill on the same day around the same time,” said Oliver Walker, 14, a camper from Gilroy. “They called out and said, ‘this is not a drill.”

Greg Hoedt, 17, from Concord’s Troop 810, remembers what the scene at the camp was like.

“As the day went on it got darker and darker and closer and closer and it was raining ash and bark. It was really eerie.”

As they were supposed to for the drill, the campers heeded the fire alarm and met at the waterfront as calmly and quickly as possible.

Russ Morris, Reno director of Boy Scout Adventure Crew, said it took only 10 minutes for the close to 100 people to load up and leave their camping trip, which was only into its third day.

“We were told drop your equipment and go,” he said, adding that the Scouts sang and yelled like they learned to do in leadership.

In Truckee, Kim Ochoa, wife of Truckee Scoutmaster Lawrence Ochoa, practiced the “be prepared” motto by working to organize an emergency shelter for the Scouts at the Sierra Mountain Middle School.

“I just called the school and asked, ‘can you help me out,'” she said.

Initially looking into Donner State Park and Tahoe-Truckee High School, Sierra Mountain was chosen as the evacuation base for its kitchen facilities, she said.

After securing a shelter, Ochoa and fellow “angel” Karen Lynch worked on getting donations – food and supplies from grocery stores, blankets and towels from hotels, even toothbrushes and toothpaste from local dentists.

Football coach Bob Schaffer and a few of his players carried wrestling mats from Tahoe-Truckee High School to Sierra Mountain for the Scouts to sleep on.

“I didn’t sleep well last night but I was glad I had a place to sleep with warm blankets and towels,” said Conor McCormack, 15, from Concord’s Troop 465.

Hoedt said he slept fine at the shelter but that some of younger Scouts were crying and the older staff was distraught because the fire ruined a year’s planning.

Despite the relocation, sessions and classes on wood skills, fire safety and other Boy Scout activities continued and many of the older staff at the camp will be returning when Marin Sierra is taken off the evacuation list.

“We’re keeping spirits and morals up because it’s easier to stay focused,” Hoedt said.


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