Six months after the Almeda Fire, two towns continue healing

TALENT, Ore. – Fueled by winds rarely seen in the Rogue Valley, the Almeda Fire claimed the lives of 3 people and burned over 3,000 structures 6 months ago.

While everyone is at a different place in rebuilding after the horrific Almeda Fire. The message of resilience rings true.

Andy Bonner is a Talent resident. Even 6 months after the Almeda Fire, he still experiences the trauma that came with the flames

“It leaves me very unsettled. Even as much as when we had the high winds last week. Hearing things ping off of my RV,” said Bonner.

The Almeda Fire destroyed 2,659 structures. Nearly 2,500 of them were residential homes, just under 175 were commercial properties.

“As you drive through this burn scar down Highway 199, you see a lot that’s not cleaned up yet. But when you get off highway 199 and go into these residential neighborhoods, many of these mobile home parks, you’re gonna see a lot of work,” said John Vial,  Jackson Co. Emergency Operations Center.

Vial said out of the 1,500 individual mobile homes that were burned about 600 are already cleaned up. He also said about 50% of the other homes are cleaned-up. But even as major progress continues there’s still one major challenge the county is facing – housing.

“The housing stock is low and finding available units is a huge challenge. The rebuilding of these communities is gonna take some time,” said Vial.

As of this morning, Jackson Co. said there are 875 individuals in 455 rooms at 20 different hotels being housed and paid for by the State of Oregon. That number also doesn’t include the 91 families in FEMA trailers in the Rogue Valley.

But as Phoenix and Talent continue to rebuild, Bonner is just happy for his community’s resilience. and it’s small town and big heart.

As for clean-up, Vial told NBC5 News it’s moving quicker, the county has 8 crews cleaning up daily. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said late last month that over 17-tons of ash and debris have been cleared in Jackson Co. That’s equivalent to 163 school buses.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content