Cuesta Fire: Not everyone leaves when 'mandatory evacuations' are issued

Aug 18, 2015

Those evacuated from the Cuesta Fire are anxiously awaiting word that they can return to their homes.

Gina Travelstead sits with her dog, Sally, on her cot at the Red Cross evacuee center in Atascadero.

One evacuee in particular, Santa Margarita resident Gina Travelstead, was told to leave Monday and now says she feels the evacuation process wasn't fair.

Travelstead and her small dog Sally were holed up at the Red Cross evacuation center in Atascadero on Tuesday. She said, on Monday evening the orders to evacuate came from an officer with a megaphone telling them to leave town immediately.

Much to her dismay, other residents of the Santa Margarita Mobile Home Park stayed behind.

California law does not require people to evacuate their homes in the face of disaster. However, San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Manager Ron Alsop said remaining in your home when given evacuation orders creates additional problems for everyone involved.

"One, it puts the rescuers in danger as well as the people that stayed behind," Alsop said. "And two, that takes resources off the line to continue fighting the fire."

Alsop said those that chose to follow the orders did the right thing. But, for Travelstead, it doesn't necessarily feel that way.

"I don't think that's fair," she said. "And its a nightmare. I need to go home and I don't know if I'm even going to have a home."