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Wrecker frees fire engine from steep, muddy road in north Forsyth

NORTH FORSYTH — An emergency vehicle had to be pulled out by a wrecker after getting stuck Sunday night on what has been called “the worst road in Forsyth County.”

According to authorities, the fire truck that was dispatched about 8 p.m. to a medical emergency on Windy Oaks Drive was unable to climb the private dirt road in north Forsyth due to soaking weekend rain.

“The road was just too slick for a piece of equipment that is not designed to go off road,” said Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. “A fire engine is not designed for a steep, muddy conditions like they were faced with.”

Though the situation was resolved within an hour — and had no medical consequences, as the patient did not require transport — it does highlight the challenges some rural roads present in an increasingly urban county.

Shivers said that the department made every effort to get the truck out on its own before calling a wrecker.

“On board all of our fire engines, we have what is called an on-spot chain system, and it’s a set of chains that deploys under the wheels to help give extra traction,” he said. “But they’re systems that are designed for snow.”

Shivers went on to note that fire personnel tried the chain system “to no avail, adding “they also dumped all of their water [500 gallons] off of the engine.”

Eventually, authorities called in a heavy duty commercial tow truck.

“The same kind of wrecker that would be seen towing a tractor trailer or piece of heavy equipment on the highway,” Shivers said. “Our fire engines are 48,000 pounds when they are fully loaded.”

Shivers said that the ambulance that came along with the fire truck was able to climb the hill.

“They did it, barely,” he said. “They were spinning the whole way going up the hill.”

Ken Martin, who lives at the house to which the emergency crews responded, said he’s talked with county government officials for years about fixing the road. According to Martin, one previous county commissioner labeled Windy Oaks Drive “the worst road in Forsyth County.”

“It’s a bit ridiculous,” Martin said. “I mean if someone had a serious medical issue in here, and we had a big snow or heavy rain, the emergency people couldn’t get down here or get back out.”

John Cunard, the county’s engineering director, has previously said Windy Oaks Drive is a difficult situation since the road is not maintained by the county.

“Basically it’s a private road, it’s on private property,” he said. “Therefore, the county has no jurisdiction over it, and can’t provide maintenance on it.”

Cunard added that the county has a program to fix private roads, but it requires property owners to surrender some right of way. Such an agreement has not been reached with Windy Oaks Drive residents.