First responders warn residents not to ignore road closures in wildfire zones


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Road closures in wildfire zones are there for a reason – to keep people safe. 

A deputy says even first responders have trouble driving in wildfire conditions.

Do not go around road closures in wildfire zones. That is the message from Bay Area law enforcement agencies, who warn ignoring closures could cost you your life.

“What gets you is not the flames and the fire, it is the smoke,” Sgt. Ray Kelly said. 

Video was taken by deputies with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office that were assigned to the SCU Lightening Complex fire. 

Deputy Sergeant Ray Kelly describes a recent situation while driving in these dangerous conditions.

“It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon and it was pitch black up there on the road. You cannot see with the amount of smoke. There is no daylight. You have to use your headlights on your vehicle. You can barely see the road. So trying to navigate and operate in an environment like that, even as a trained firefighter or a law enforcement person, is almost impossible and if you’re someone who is not experienced in those environments, you’re looking for trouble,” Kelly said. 

He says that trouble could come crashing down on you while firefighters are dousing the blaze from up above.

“Water coming down from one of those aircraft, if it were to hit you, definitely could either kill you or seriously injure you. Water is very heavy. It doesn’t compress. It hits with a tremendous amount of force,” Kelly said. 

While officials with the sheriff’s office say they understand why someone may think it is worth the risk to go around a road closure, deputies say it is their duty to warn the public and prevent that action if possible.

“We’re not going to allow you to go into an area where there is a high likelihood that you can get killed,” Kelly said.  

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