ONTARIO -- Following a gas line leak last summer in Ontario, Oregon, neighbors demanded to have better plans in place in case it ever happens again. On Tuesday, new plans were tested in case of any future leaks.
That leak back in August sent a spray of diesel mist into the air and Ontario HazMat says it was taken care of by Chevron in about a half hour. However, worry about larger problems and concern about lack of information has prompted new plans.
"Some of the residents were concerned on how they were notified, who was notified, who wasn't notified and the time that it took. So we met with them and we came up with a plan, and basically that's what this drill is," Jared Gammage, Ontario HazMat Coordinator said.
On Tuesday, Ontario Fire and Rescue started things off by sending smoke into the air near the gas line with a generator and a machine.
"Basically what it does is make things more realistic. And we can also check the wind and make sure if there was product, that we would be able to know where it was going, where it was headed and who we had to evacuate downwind," Gammage said.
Then, evacuations began with firefighters and sheriff's deputies going door to door explaining the drill and asking people if they'd like to practice evacuating.
Some neighbors decided to leave, like Flora Gibbs and her husband who live right next to where the line leaked last time.
"It's a little nerve wracking, yes," Gibbs said. "[With the drill],this way at least I know how it will go, what to expect."
Those who evacuated met down the street at the state park where emergency dispatchers were stationed to coordinate everything as though the evacuation were real. It's an opportunity to make plans before any real emergencies of any type.
Especially here in Malheur County when we have the interstate going through Ontario, we have the airport, we have railroad that goes right through the middle of town. So there's a lot of different scenarios where we can take this same operations and just plant it into another staging area in the area. So it's very important that we do it, and we do it right," Ontario Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Dale Jeffries said.
At the end of the drill, all of the emergency responders and residents met to discuss pros and cons of the current plan.
Some changes responders have already made are dealing with helping bedridden people and children who are home alone. They've decided deputies would take kids to the evacuation point and then call parents.