Resident reacts to being evacuated in 65-acre Central Point grass fire

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Rhonda Guches said she wasn’t sure her house would make it.

But a quick response from local fire agencies prevented any homes from being destroyed.

“There was a time when I was like, my house might be gone,” Guchens said.

Guches lives off Judge and Peace Lane, right in the heart of the evacuation zone during Thursday’s 65-acre grass fire in northeast Central Point.

Around 4:15, Level 3 ‘Go’ evacuations were activated.

Guches described the scene when law enforcement arrived.

“They were like get out, now,” she said. “Be safe. Who lives there, do they know, they were knocking on doors, they had loud speakers for everyone to leave.”

Jackson County Fire District 3 was one of the first to arrive on scene.

Fire chief Mike Hussey said the fire was initially reported as a small grass fire around 3:30 p.m..

“When the first units got there, they reported 2-to-3 acres in knee-high dry fuels, and it was being pushed around by the wind,” he said. “The wind was a little erratic, it made it to the north and then it turned to the east and toward the south.”

In just minutes, the fire grew quickly.

“We stopped forward progress about 30 minutes after the first arriving units, so it moved out across that many hundreds of yards, 65 acres in total,” Hussey said.

Chief Hussey said the coordination between ODF Southwest and other fire agencies was critical to containing the fire. 

While no homes were damaged. Fire District 3 said two outbuildings, a barn, and a motorhome were all lost in the fire.

Guches said although she was worried, she was able to return home just a few hours late, once the evacuation level was downgraded.

“What if that spark comes into our neighbors, and sets him, and then onto my property,” Guches said. “You just don’t know. Just for a second. And then as I continued to watch and the fighting the fire was increased and then I felt more comfortable.”

Fire District 3 did confirm the fire was human-caused.

But the exact cause is still under investigation.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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