Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, July 29 2013 at 4:51 PM, Updated: Tue, July 30 2013 at 12:00 AM
Many wildfire battles in Klamath and Lake counties are fought from the Klamath Falls Interagency fire center...
"Gathering weather intel, tracking resources, and we have folks assigned to supporting the Lakeview side." Notes Fire Dispatcher Riley Spivey. "The aircraft, and crew resources."
Dispatchers are currently tracking over two dozen fires sparked by lightning late last week...and Oregon Department of Forestry Dispatch Coordinator Jake Barnett reports that two more fires were reported Sunday near Bly...
"One was called the 'Tiny Two' fire, I'm not sure the acreage on that - last report was right around 200 acres. And the other was was the 'Ferguson' fire, I think they caught that at around 15."
The air tanker base next to dispatch has been busy, pumping out about a dozen loads of fire retardant over the weekend.
Spivey notes that much of the smoke in Klamath Falls is coming from fires outside of Klamath County...
"Most of the smoke that we're seeing is coming from west of the Cascades, the Medford, Roseburg area - Grants Pass as well."
"Visibility wise, it's been pretty bad." Adds Jake Barnett. "Depending on the instability, and how it's laying down on us."
Spivey notes that while it's relatively quiet at dispatch right now...
"We still have several months of peak fire season ahead of us."
But the dispatchers say they're ready.
This is the last fire season the Klamath Falls Interagency Fire Center will be open.
Dispatch operations for Klamath and Lake counties will be based in Lakeview next year.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.