Sprague River fire victims seek relief

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, July 23 2014 at 5:06 PM, Updated: Wed, July 23 2014 at 5:16 PM

Klamath Falls, Ore. - "Help us to rebuild."  That's the request made to the Klamath County Commissioners from those hit by last week's fire in Sprague River.

Ken Petersen was one of 17 homeowners who lost everything in the 'Moccasin Hills' fire that blackened about 4 square miles in Sprague river last week...

"My house, it melted to the ground, basically."

Peterson joined 11 others Wednesday in asking Klamath County Commissioners for help.

"Waiving dump fees, rebuilding fees."  Noted Ron Willis of Sprague river.  "Those kind of issues."

"If those building permits would be waived, that would greatly help the people that lost everything."  Added Sprague River resident Danny Dunn.

The county plans to place a container in the neighborhood for demolition disposal.

Damaged properties will also need to be re-assessed for tax purposes.

Roads in the area aren't maintained by the county, and were a common complaint from the group.

"The road infrastructure was not very good to start with."  Says Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams.  "I think the realization is that you need to fund a road district, or something like that."

Danny Dunn believes the road district idea is now getting a serious look...

"That sparked a lot of interest to the people out there, because the roads out there are horrible."'

Ken Petersen says insurance will help with rebuilding, but that money will only go so far...'

"It's going to be, 'build a house within the number of dollars I've got' - and hopefully, we can get some assistance at the local level here at the county, a reduction of fees, possibly."

The fire cost over 3 million dollars to put out...but for many, the emotional cost will be even higher.

Waiving building permit fees won't be as easy as it sounds. 

Those fees are split between the state, the county, and county schools - and those parties would all need to agree to a waiver.

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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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