National Rural Water Association

American West Fighting Raging Wildfires

American West Fighting Raging Wildfires

Photo Courtesy of Tiffany Jean Hill – 100 Yards North of Neotsu Post Office, Oregon

While Louisiana and parts of Texas are starting the recovery process after devastating Hurricane Laura, California and the Pacific Northwest are battling raging wildfires. California had a record 2.5 million acres burn so far, while many small Oregon and Washington cities have burnt to the ground with only ashes left. The scene looks ominous, with fire trucks abandoned and burned along the road, and those left in small communities trying to escape with their lives at the last chance. While there is chaos around them, water operators can access some small towns in Oregon with police escorts and are making sure the water sources are running to help fight the fires.

For many of the communities affected in Oregon, they are in the heart of the Oregon Coast, Coast Range and valley to the Cascades, where large timber areas are that are burning viciously. The forest floor scattered with pine needles and branches is fueling the fire even more. It is normal for the Pacific Northwest to experience multiple winter storms each year with heavy rain and wind exceeding 100 mph from the Southwest. However, the recent days of 60 mph gusts and steady 20 to 30 mph winds from the East have caused many trees and limbs to fall and have created dry tinder for the blaze.

Oregon Association of Water Utilities Executive Director, Jason Green, said, “Locals and weather specialists say the setting is similar to or worse than the conditions of the Big Burn (Montana and Idaho) or the Tillamook Burn (Oregon). We are waiting for the rain and high, cool humidity and temps usual to our areas.”

OAWU is currently managing contacts and requests, reaching out to the accessible cities and utilities and will soon be in the field to assist in the coming days. Currently local news and tv stations are unable to access the affected areas to provide coverage.

Green wrapped up by saying, “We stink and have headaches from the smoke (inside and outside of our homes) and are coated in ash and soot if outside working. We are thankful to be alive and helping. We will be very busy soon. Rain. Just a little rain.”

NRWA is committed to providing updates and any news concerning these wildfires.