SELMA, Ore.– The sight of an desolate Lake Selmac are a reminder of a summer season that has been diminished by the constant harassment of smoke over the valley. But it pales in comparison to the sight of smoke and fire rising just over the ridge of the town of Selma.
For residents living around the area, it’s terrifying to see.
After jumping the Illinois River last Saturday, crews have been working in overdrive to prevent the Klondike Fire from spreading to communities southeast of it such as Selma and Cave Junction.
“The safety of the firefighters obviously and also adjacent communities and people in the path of the fire is our number one priority,” said Peter Frenzen, information officer for the Alaska Interagency Management Team.
While fire crews have managed to deter the fire from moving east, pushing it westbound instead, the sights of flames and smoke still stirs unrest.
“Lived in Florida and had tornadoes. Lived in California, we’ve had earthquakes,” said Richard Greer, a Selma resident. “My wife’s been around where tornadoes and stuff. This is more terrifying.”
As the advancement of the fire towards communities along the 199 corridor have come to a halt, the smoke spewing from it is not as easy to control.
“It’s like a campfire. You just try and put the campfire out and get all that smolder,” said Yvonne Company, a Selma resident.”
Now with smoke choking people living near the fire, some are heading to cleaner air near the coast while others choose to stay.
“We’re trying to get out,” said Greer. “I feel bad for the folks that don’t have that option. We’re pretty blessed that we can kind of escape a little bit.”
Regardless if they stay or go, the community is cheering on the firefighters hoping everything returns to normal soon.
“These guys, the bravery and the work ethic is just incredible to me,” said Greer. “Whatever they’re getting paid, they need to double it.”
As of Wednesday, the Klondike Fire remains at 15 percent containment with an estimated 57,325 acres burned or burning from the fire. The Taylor Creek Fire which has merged with the Klondike in certain portions is at about 49,000 acres and 45 percent containment.
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