Fire analyst speaks to Josephine county residents about how to prepare for fire season

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – As fire season gets closer, people in Josephine County gathered to learn from an expert about how they can protect their home and minimize damage to their communities.

In a report released this year by U.S. Forest Service, they list Merlin as the number one community at risk for exposure to wildfire. Community members gathered Friday in hopes they may lower risk and prevent any loss of life or structure in the future.”

“Wildfire in southern Oregon is a very real and imminent threat,” Josephine County resident, Janet Lancaster said.

Southern Oregonians meeting in Grants Pass Friday night to discuss what do you do in the event of a wildfire barreling toward your home.

“We live in a fire environment in southwest Oregon and we have homes in close proximity to high areas of burning,” Fire Analyst, Rick Stratton said.

As a fire analyst with the U.S. Forest Service, Stratton created a study to showcase the wildfire risk to communities in Oregon.

“I’m hoping to tell folks what they can do to protect their homes and business,” Stratton said. “There are certain things you can do that can do with your structure and its immediate surroundings to harden it and make it more ignition resistant.

Merlin was named the community with the highest risk of wildfires in the state, and 15 other communities in both Josephine and Jackson counties ranked in the top 25. Janet Lancaster is new to the area and was surprised to learn how serious the wildfire risk was to her home. That’s why she wanted Stratton to come in to talk to her community.

“I mean I was freaked out because part of our quest when we were looking for homes and places to live. we went to Cal Fire and ODF, and somehow we miss this,” Lancaster said.

She and neighbors are working together to create defensible spaces.

“Not everyone is participating but here’s the cool thing is that a lot more people are clearing their property and cleaning up,” she said.

But, Lancaster knows it has to be a countywide effort to be effective. Stratton says he hopes people better understand the risk after his presentation and are now better equipped to protect Grants Pass and southern Oregon from another devastating wildfire season.

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