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Tracy neighborhood concerned after Corral Fire burns too close for comfort: "A wake-up call"

Recent fires lead to evacuation route worries in Tracy
Recent fires lead to evacuation route worries in Tracy 02:50

TRACY -- Homeowners in one area of the San Joaquin County city of Tracy are calling on city leaders and developers to expand the number of entry and exit points to their neighborhood in case of emergency.

Tracy Hills, a 1,850-acre resort-style residential development as described on the Integral Communities website, will have 5,980 single-family homes when it is complete. The neighborhood entrance that sits off of Corral Hollow Road in Tracy, near the site of the 14,000-acre Corral fire, has only one paved entrance and exit road.

This is a problem, according to some homeowners, who fear that with one paved road in and out, evacuations in the event of a fire would be devastating.

"I feel that the events from this past weekend was a huge wake-up call," said Stephanie Pino, a Tracy Hills homeowner for two years.

Pino said the concern of what to do in an emergency, not just fire, started when her family moved into the neighborhood. That's when she said she started contacting the HOA, Tracy city leaders and developers. Others joined her, as reviewed by CBS13 in email and neighborhood chats.

Technically, there are two exits, but the second option is for emergency vehicles only—unpaved and locked by a gate. Although law enforcement would be able to open the gate in the event of an emergency, some homeowners have expressed concerns that in the event of an emergency, they are not able to evacuate on their own other than the one-way road at the front of the development.

"We need more than one entry and exit point from this community," Pino said.

Tracy City Councilmember Matteo Bedolla said he expressed concerns about the number of entry and exit points in this development as far back as 2020 before he was an elected official.

"I would say that this is definitely not just a public safety issue as well as a transportation issue, but because it's a public safety issue, it really should be number one for anyone who's in the business of serving the public," Bedolla said.

Since he first voiced concerns, Bedolla said a fire station was built in the Tracy Hills neighborhood—something he calls a step toward safety.

"We don't have a police substation in that section of town. We had the fire station by then, but there was just so much missing. We don't have much on that in the area of town, no commercial, no retail. So, in building those homes you are creating a demand that you must be able to serve," Bedolla said.

Pino said she could see flames from the Corral Fire from the windows of her home but never had to evacuate. "What ifs" run through her mind now, hoping that along with the Phase 2 building of Tracy Hills, improvements to the entry and exit points will be made across the neighborhood.

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