Street quarrels over Mirador Estate's locked fire escape route

 Don't Block, Unlock: "We have the right to be protected from potential fire." Photo: Rachel Mounsey
Don't Block, Unlock: "We have the right to be protected from potential fire." Photo: Rachel Mounsey

There was a lot of noise being made in the normally tranquil Mirador Estate Thursday morning when residents gathered to discuss the problematic "fire access" road.

The gate-locked emergency access has caused significant tension between neighbours this past week.

A community mailbox letter drop invited Mirador residents to come together at 10am Thursday, September 12, to discuss their fire safety plans - but the gathering soon turned sour.

The tense atmosphere at the end of Camilla Court, the location of the controversial dirt road's entrance, saw neighbours quarreling over whether the road should have 24 hour public access.

A letter box drop brought residents out to discuss the issues for and against. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

A letter box drop brought residents out to discuss the issues for and against. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

As the News Weekly reported earlier this week, Mirador Drive is the only way in and out of the rapidly expanding estate apart from the dirt track with two locked gates joining Camilla Court and Berrambool.

The council is responsible for the road and has said that emergency services all hold keys to the two locked gates.

An invisible line was drawn as those who want the road to be open stood on one side and those who want it kept as is on the other.

 "This has been an issue for 20 years": Rod MacDougall says the locked gates need to be removed. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

"This has been an issue for 20 years": Rod MacDougall says the locked gates need to be removed. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Rod MacDougall talking into a megaphone spoke on behalf of those who want the gate unlocked.

He told the small crowd if there was a bushfire threatening the neighbourhood he wanted to be able to escape using the road as the exit.

"The way it is now - he said it's only an entrance and I want to be able to get out."

The News Weekly spoke to a few residents at the meeting and found out what their views were on the issue:

Ross Stephens, Mirador resident:

"People who live in the street are concerned about additional traffic, but we all need to be protected from potential fire.

"You just need to look at Queensland - we are heading into what is predicted to be a catastrophic season"

Robert Stephens, Camilla Court resident :

"We bought here for the peace and quiet. Once the road is open it will be a problem - there will be too much traffic.

"I don't want it opened, but it would be great if they got a key.

"This road needs to be forgotten about and we need to concentrate on an exit near Tura."

"Once it's open it will be a problem": Camilla Crt resident Robert Stephens is concerned unlocking the road will bring unwanted traffic through the quiet court. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

"Once it's open it will be a problem": Camilla Crt resident Robert Stephens is concerned unlocking the road will bring unwanted traffic through the quiet court. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Liz MacDougall:

"We need another option, we only have one fire access for Mirador and if that's closed then we are locked in.

"We only have one exit road, that is Mirador Drive, if that is closed then we have nowhere to go, one option is not enough.

"Mirador is surrounded by national park, and with the sub-division more people are moving into Mirador. There could be up to 1000 residents trying to evacuate.

"Our evacuation area is Berrambool Oval, we need to get to that in an emergency situation and that's just not possible."

Shirley Rixon, Berrambool resident:

"The King Lake tragedies in Melbourne are still raw with me. They had only one way out. We need more access ways here."

Maggie Noone, Mirador resident:

"A secondary access road is needed. They are actually expecting an extra 1000 people to move into Mirador in the next 11 years.

"With extra people, we need to move into the most recent RFS plans which say you need to have two access roads. At the moment we only have one.

"I get that Camilla Court people don't want people hooning down here to get to Merimbula quickly. But I certainly believe a speed camera at the top end of Berrambool Drive could fix that. Fine people a few hundred bucks when they go through it and they will stop hooning pretty quick.

"It's going to cost more than $20,000 to get the road up to scratch. And if it is only for the firefighters then they absolutely need to give us a second option, they need to give us somewhere else to go.

"A road that leads north-west out of the estate is not the right way to go.

"If a fire started small around Mirador Drive there is nowhere for us to get out quickly. The fact that no-one has a key to the gate just proves it."

Ian Franks, Camilla Court resident:

"The emergency services will tell you when it's time to go and they will give plenty of warning.

"If the gate and everybody was trying to get out that way and emergency services were trying to get in that could be catastrophic.

"The primary use of the road if for emergency vehicles only.

"I live the closet to bush land, it's just at my back fence and I know we live in a risk area and you have to have your fire plan."

Camilla Court: A no through road in a quiet cul-de-sac is making a lot of noise. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Camilla Court: A no through road in a quiet cul-de-sac is making a lot of noise. Photo: Rachel Mounsey