USA – PORTLAND, Ore. — Firefighters across Oregon have already begun fighting fires in the 2021 wildfire season. But with months more to go, experts are warning people in urban areas not to let their guard down.
“We’ve been doing a lot of site visits for people who are wanting to know, are their homes safe or are they in danger?” said Tammy Owen, a public information officer with Clackamas Fire District #1.
Owen says memories of last year’s Riverside Fire, which caused mass evacuations in Clackamas County, have convinced some people that wildfires can occur in urban areas.
The Almeda Fire burned through the towns of Phoenix and Talent in September of 2020, destroying large sections of town. That fire didn’t start or burn in any forested areas and instead torched residential areas.
“One of the things that people get is the misconception in wildland fires is the wall of fire that burns through evenly burning things,” said Pat McAbery a firefighter with Gresham Fire. “What it really is most of the time is the embers that are jumping ahead and catching in little places.”
McAbery was one of the local firefighters called to help in southern Oregon.
“When you just see where a town used to be and now it’s not anymore, it really gives you a little awe from Mother Nature’s ability to say, I’m going to do this my way and you’re not going to have much of an impact on it.”