Fire leaders reflect on this year’s fire season

Medford, Ore.- The U.S. Forest Service is sharing what it learned during this summer’s rough fire season.

This year, more than 252,000 acres were burned in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest area.

“Thousands were evacuated from their homes for weeks on end,” state rep. David Brocksmith said.

Brock Smith’s district fully encompasses the Checto bar fire.

“The smoke was so bad that it was actually causing the meters that were measuring the smoke to fail constantly,” he said.

Which is why Brock Smith traveled more than five hours to attend the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest informational meeting Thursday night.

He says the Forest Service needs to mitigate fires before they grow.

“We know changing conditions are occurring, we need to change the management practices to adapt to the changing conditions in the landscape,” Brock Smith said.

But some officials say the game plan varies depending on the fire and conditions.

“Different challenges come up at different times depending on the location of the fire and the fuel conditions,” Roland Giller, acting public affairs officer for Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest said.

And no matter how big or small the fire is officials says safety if their number one concern.

“Firefighters and public safety is always the number one priority in suppression of all fires,” Giller said.

Fire officials say establishing a joint information center helped get information out to the public. They also say the area command team helped fire staff and other officials share the workload.

NBC5 News reporter Karen Tang graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communications and a master’s in journalism.

Before coming to Medford, Karen was an intern at WUSA9 and NBC News Channel in Washington D.C.

During her time in Maryland, Karen was an NCAA Division I student-athlete on the Maryland gymnastics team. She competed against Big Ten universities and made the Big Ten All-Championship team.

When Karen isn’t reporting, she’s at the gym working out, taking pictures with her dog Boomer and searching for the best food in Southern Oregon.

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