Wildfires

Jessica Florescu, Section Reporter

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By now, it’s a well-known fact that wildfires have swept across Oregon. At one time, there was so much smoke that the smoke level in Roseburg rose to unhealthy levels, but luckily Roseburg’s smoke level has been good since Sept. 19. So what is a wildfire exactly? A wildfire is a large destructive fire. It’s different from a house fire, since house fires start in your house rather than outside. A wildfire also spreads over a number of acres and an acre is 43,560 square feet. One way to look at it is that a house with three bedrooms is roughly 1,200 square feet. That means that one acre is about 36 houses with three bedrooms and some wildfires can be over 43,00 acres, no joke.

There were eighteen fires burning since September 21, and three of those were complex fires, meaning that those fires had other fires in the same area as the original fire. Some statistics (data) on the fires in Douglas County is that there were 74 wildfires in Douglas County and 104.4 protected acres. All of those fires were human caused. In the Coos Bay district, which is about an hour and a half away from us on the coast, had 40 fires, but only 46.32 of those acres were protected. Three of the fires in the Coos Bay district were lightning caused, and the rest were human caused. The number of fires for each district were for the whole fire season this year.

This fire hasn’t been the craziest, but it was still the closest fire to Roseburg. It was the Horse Prairie fire. It was put out on September 21 and had a personnel of 57 when the fire was 95% contained. What is a personnel? A personnel is the number of people working on a project or job. That means that even when the fire was 95% contained, they still needed 57 people to help work on it. That’s because the people helping with the fire aren’t just firefighters, those firefighters need food, sometimes laundry, and the firefighters need to take showers. When interviewed on the wildfires, Kerry McElroy from A-1 Septic & Power Rooter Service was asked if the firefighters got to go home at night. He said “no, they don’t”.He said that the firefighters have to pitch tents to sleep in. A-1 Septic and Power Rooter Service is a company that pumps the grey water tanks or water for the people involved in a fire. The owner of this business is Brian Willetts. Locally, the company pumps septic tanks or tanks full of sewage.                                                                                                                              

Now, this all seems like a lot of work for a wildfire, even when it was already 95% contained like the Horse Prairie fire. The Horse Prairie fire was 31.2 miles from Roseburg and covered 16,436 acres. The cause of that fire was still under investigation on that date.

One fire worth talking about is a fire called the Umpqua North Complex fire. Again, complex fire isn’t just a wildfire, it’s a wildfire with two or more fires in the same area. This complex fire started from a series of lightning storms in the beginning of August and has burned over 43,000 acres. There are ten fires in the complex, and most of these wildfires were located alongside the North Umpqua River by Highway 138, which is a great area for hikers, campers, boaters, etc. From September 20 on, they have allowed unrestricted travel on Highway 138 through the burn area, but on that date that was only for the highway. The complex fire received its first bit of precipitation on September 20 and it definitely helped give the firefighters relief. All of the fires in the complex had a total personnel of 599 when the fire was 38% contained.                                                                                                                                           

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Wildfires