Oregon State Fire Marshal gives guided tour of Almeda Fire

PHOENIX, Ore.– Officials say, “What you saw was unprecedented destruction… I cant say it any other way.”

Police say putting out a massive fire is only part-1 of the disaster left by the Almeda fire.

The Jackson County Sheriffs Office says downed power lines, uncontained gas lines, broken glass, fallen trees and structures… Are just a few reasons why the highway remains shut down.

“We don’t want to have this tragedy continue. We want to be thoughtful, we want to be measured, and we want to be planned in how we approach mitigating this and getting people back into their homes, back into their businesses, back into the area.”

Rich Tyler from the Oregon State Fire Marshal led us on Highway-99, from Phoenix to North Ashland.

As we travelled, we saw business after business reduced to rubble, along with hundreds of homes.

Tyler says rebuilding two towns will not be a quick fix.

“How often do you see a city built in a day? This has to be remodeled. This is a full-city remodel.”

He adds that all local firefighters were emergency re-called in before the fire started, just because of the weather conditions.

“This could have been way worse. Its tragic… But it could have been worse,” says a Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy.

But local resources were on their own; this because fire chief of District 3, Bob

Horton, says so much of the state of Oregon is on fire at the same time.

Horton says when the conflagration was declared the state was only able to send 5 for an overhead team, when normally 40 would be expected.

When they could typically expect 8-10 from a task force, only 1 was sent with a couple more en-route today.

When asked about what was the main priority when fighting the fire, Tyler says, “All of our energy is not going to be put into putting fire out… Its going to be making sure people get evacuated and safely out.”

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