“FIRE”, Julianne Crane said, “will probably be our first emergency.”
That was at about 11 am. By mid-afternoon the fire between Oakland and Sutherlin caught our attention. Cheryl Warfel and I drove out and circled up Union Gap Loop Road to where a slash burn pile had apparently gotten out of control. The fire was creeping up the mountain side (Hillside?) and about 5 firetrucks, including water tankers were fighting it. As the fire spread up the hill there was lots of smoke and very few flames. Smoke would encircle a group of trees, the trees would turn brown and the smoke would continue on up the hill. I couldn’t understand why the trees didn’t burst into flame. One of the firefighters explained, “The underbrush burns so quickly that it just scorches everything and races on ahead.” Also probably the trees were green enough and maybe moist enough to prevent a full-fledged forest fire.
When the fire outran the reach of the trucks and hoses a helicopter with water bucket appeared. Every three minutes he dumped, raced off north and returned to dump again. Three minutes on the dot.
What a good test for our fledgling Emergency Preparedness Communications. Not sure how it should work, I called Julianne and Rick DeYoung and turned it over to them. “Rained Out” performed beautifully letting us know when the danger was over. You don’t have “Rained Out”? Run, don’t walk, to the office and ask Kim to put it on your phone. You will be notified when any happening is “rained out”, interfered with, postponed cancelled etc. or when you are endangered by an emergency.
Also very timely, the Wildfire Prevention talk scheduled for Friday, May 17 at 3 p.m. read more about it on the Timber Valley website. (And yes, you need to get hooked up with that too; it’s beyond terrific.)
Now we have the opportunity to plan what we would have done if the fire had shot over the hill and threatened downtown Sutherlin. Probably also Timber Valley!