News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Governor declares statewide wildfire emergency

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a statewide wildfire emergency because of the imminent threat of wildfires across the state.

In her executive order the governor noted that “much of the state continues to experience high temperatures, wind, storms with dry lightning and persistent drought.” 

Brown also noted that the neighboring states of Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho are experiencing similar conditions and that the Oregon Department of Forestry already “is heavily engaged in initial and extended wildfire attack. … New and existing fire threats elevate the need to prepare for access to state resources, including firefighting aircraft. This threat is not likely to recede in the near future.”

Brown added that the National Guard should be prepared to “expedite requested resources and respond effectively to these dangerous and dynamic conditions.”

The order, which went into effect Monday evening, is in effect until Nov. 1 unless the threat is significantly reduced or the fire season ends.

“With wildfire behavior increasing across the state, and with the threat of fire not likely to recede in the near future, it is imperative that we act now to prevent further loss — of life, property, business, and our natural resources,” said Brown in a statement accompanying her order.  “I issued this emergency declaration to ensure every resource is made available for firefighting efforts and to the crews striving to protect our state.

“It is equally important that each of us do our part to prevent wildfires and to be prepared for the ones we can’t prevent. I am urging Oregonians to take charge in preventing human-caused fires by being safe, responsible, and aware. I am also encouraging individuals and families to be prepared by making an emergency plan and to follow all evacuation orders should they occur in areas of active wildfire.”

Brown’s order calls for all agencies of the state government to utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for any and all activities as requested by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal and coordinated by the Oregon Department of Emergency Management to respond to or mitigate the effects of the wildfire emergency. 

The Oregon National Guard, the order said, will deploy and redeploy firefighting resources as needed throughout the remainder of the fire season based upon threat and resource shortfalls. All residents are urged to heed the advice of state officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety. 

Wildfires continue to burn throughout the state, with the most serious, the Rum Creek Fire in Josephine County in Southern Oregon. The blaze has burned more than 15 square miles and has led to the evacuation of the unincorporated community of Galice, about 20 miles northwest of Grants Pass. 

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