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John West Fire Should Serve As Warning

MADERA COUNTY – Do you have a home or friends who live in the area of John West road? Did you receive a call from the Sheriff’s Office alerting you to the danger when the “West” fire broke out last week?

After the fire threatened hundreds of homes in Oakhurst on Sunday, Aug. 11, Sheriff John Anderson is urging residents and property owners throughout Madera County to register for free emergency alerts by signing up with MC-ALERT.

“We were lucky, this time,” noted Sheriff Anderson in reference to the 20-acre blaze that threatened homes and property in the area of John West Road and Road 426.

“That was the good news,” he says. “The troubling news about this incident was that out of the nearly 4,000 notifications we issued, less than 10% confirmed receipt.”

As fire crews battled the blaze on Aug. 11, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office issued 3,822 emergency alerts, notifying homeowners, renters and property owners about a possible evacuation.

Even more worrisome, says Anderson, “Our records show that only 233 confirmed they received the notification, and out of those 233 confirmations, it appears only 110 confirmations came from those who have signed up with MC-Alert.”

It’s imperative that the public understand that while the Sheriff’s emergency data base does store landline phone numbers, it does not store cell phone numbers unless you sign up.

You may be at work or school, or out of town on vacation. Perhaps you’re shopping in Fresno or at the movies. Wouldn’t you want to get a call on your cell phone if your home was in danger?

An Oakhurst couple who had signed up with MC-Alert happened to be vacationing in Colorado when the blaze broke out last week. They say they were grateful for the program because as soon as they got word, they called their neighbors back home, asking them to handle immediate affairs on their behalf in the event of an evacuation. Fortunately, no action had to be taken as they also received an all-clear notification later that night.

“Every citizen deserves to know when danger strikes no matter where they are,” says Sheriff Anderson. “If you haven’t signed up for MC-Alert, I urge you to do so now.”

Signing up for MC-Alert is as simple as the click of a mouse. “But for those who may not have access to a computer, call our office,” he says. “We’ll sign you up.”

For those who need help signing up, they can call Erica Stuart, Public Information Officer at 559-675-7976. Learn more about MC-Alert and get notification about any emergency situations wherever you are by visiting

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