We’re spending hours over the last few days trying to find who lost homes and what businesses are gone in southern Oregon, where Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, and south Medford were fire struck a week ago. This is circulating Facebook and speaks volumes.
The consequences of the Almeda Fire (yeah, not ‘Alameda’), as it’s been declared, are rippling out. It’s named after the little street where the grass fire was first reported. The air is surprisingly clear, declared green by AQI, with a rating of 46, but a smoky odor teases you like a strong memory.
My little town, Ashland, Oregon, was where it started. We suffered some losses of homes. The area to the northwest suffered much more.
A trailer park is gone. Fast food restaurants and homes are gone. A winery.
Continuing into Talent…much of the northern side burned. The Camelot Theater is gone.
On into Phoenix…
Most news services are declaring that the small town of Phoenix, population of forty-five hundred, is gone. The primary road into town is blocked off, so confirmation is yet to come, but Youtube videos taken during the night attest that Phoenix suffered. Information is spotty, as the news services cope with elections, COVID-19, wildfires across the western US, and the snow in Colorado. We’re hampered locally as reporters had to evacuate their homes and the fire burned through a cable affecting at least one service provider. Some early reports said it was a local ISP called jeffnet, but others say it was Spectrum. Maybe it was both.
Those who bundle everything — television, phone, Internet — to one provider suddenly found they weren’t receiving the local emergency alerts, a new consideration offered for you the next time that you’re debating you options.
The fire continued into south Medford, about fifteen miles up the Interstate. That section of city was evacuated, along with the
Damage reports continue seeping in. So many fires are burning that the area lacks the resources to combat them. While towns and cities this part of Jackson County are fighting this fire, a larger fire is consuming another part of the county to our northeast. The county to the west is battling its own blazes, as are towns further north in Oregon. Little help is available.
The wind has abated. This is good news. Cooler temperatures are prevailing, the low nineties, but it’s going to increase again tomorrow and continue to get hotter the rest of the week.
I was at the March for Our Lives event in Medford, Oregon, with about a thousand others yesterday, when I spied a Pittsburgh Steelers hat on a tall individual. It was a crowded space, but eventually, finding him beside me, I said, “Hey, a Steelers fan,” because so am I. Laughing, he pointed at my USAF Retired hat. “And you’re retired from the Air Force,” he said. “Like my Dad.”
His father had retired from the Air Force and moved back to Pittsburgh, PA. We chatted and uncovered that we’d lived in the same Pittsburgh neighborhoods decades ago. He was fifteen years younger than me, but we’d attended the same schools, including Turner Elementary School on Laketon Road in Wilkinsburg. Like me, he’d followed a convoluted path to reach Oregon. My last stop before Oregon was Half Moon Bay, California, and his last stop was Madison, Wisconsin. He’d only been in Oregon three years. As a military brat, he was familiar with the places where I’d been assigned, and I knew his locations.
Besides politics, we talked about the changes back in the Pittsburgh area, and the Google location there, which we’d both visited. Six degrees of separation, small world, et cetera. He was like a familiar face in the crowd, to finish the cliche trifecta.