Monument Drive Fire causes confusion over evacuations

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Multiple units from Rural Metro, ODF, and Grants Pass Fire all responded to a large vegetation fire in North Grants Pass Sunday afternoon.

Fire officials said that it broke out near North Valley High School on Monument Drive.

Rural Metro said that no structures were threatened, but sheriff’s deputies went door to door to notify residents of the fire because of the potential for spot fires in the area.

“There was a little confusion, obviously these kinds of things are very fast paced,” Rural Metro Fire Operations Chief Austin Prince said. “When you’re trying to have as many moving parts as there were coordinated to give everyone equal information, sometimes the only thing that’s best for us to do is to go door to door and just tell people that there’s a fire and it’s up to you if you want to leave or not.”

Rural Metro said that a level three evacuation notice was issued, but, according to Prince, there was never a formal notification sent out.

That sparked confusion for some residents when a notification was posted downgrading the level three order.

“The problem is that we also encounter people miles and miles away wondering if they are going to be affected because they look at some of the major disastrous fires that have occurred and want to know if it’s coming,” Prince said. “Well, we’d like to get that word to people in enough notice but it’s a difficult challenge that we face.”

We asked Josephine County Emergency Management for an interview on Monday.

They instead sent a statement.

Yesterday during the fire near Monument Drive in Grants Pass, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police rapidly ordered evacuations in the immediate area near the fire.

Josephine County Emergency Management put out notices via the Citizens Alert system, social media and the Rogue Valley Emergency Management website,

OSP and JCSO went door to door during the initial evacuation order.

As levels were reduced due to the successful firefighting operations, those were released as well.

The professional and quick work by firefighters and law enforcement prevented any loss of life or property.

The department’s Facebook page did post a list of resources for people looking to stay informed about fire season in Josephine County.

ODF said that they believe there were lightning strikes in the area, but that has not been confirmed as the official cause of the fire.

That investigation into the cause is still ongoing.

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Ethan McReynolds is a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC5 News. He grew up in Bothell, Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Broadcasting and minors in Journalism and Sport Management. At Gonzaga, he started his own sports podcast. Ethan loves rooting for his hometown Seattle sports teams, especially the Mariners. He loves playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan.
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