Oregon Declares State of Emergency, Orders Evacuations as 8,400-Acre Wildfire Burns

by Lauren Boisvert

Oregon has declared a state of emergency as the Rum Creek wildfire burns through the southwest area of the state. Governor Kate Brown enacted Oregon’s Emergency Conflagration Act on Saturday when the fire had only swept through 4,700 acres. The state of emergency will allow for emergency responders and additional assistance to be brought in from other states.

“It is important for all Oregonians to be prepared, follow all evacuation orders, and continue to follow local and statewide fire prevention regulations to keep our communities safe and our natural resources protected,” said Brown in her statement.

The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal can now work together with the Oregon Department of Forestry to combat the fire, according to a report by The Hill. Brown’s statement also included that the Rum Creek Fire “exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.”

As of today, the fire has currently burned 8,404 acres in Josephine County, near Galice, Oregon. It has doubled in size since Saturday, when the state of emergency was invoked. Level 1, 2, and 3 evacuation orders are in effect for residents living near the fire, according to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is a good reminder that conditions can change quickly, and that fire knows no bounds,” said Brown.

Oregon Firefighter Dies While Battling Rum Creek Wildfire

The state of emergency went into effect on Saturday, but the Rum Creek Fire was burning the Thursday before that. Local fire crews were battling the blaze, which had not grown to the gargantuan proportions that it is today, August 28. Though, the fire was still deadly. A firefighter tragically died on Thursday after a falling tree struck him.

25-year-old Logan Taylor died after a falling tree critically injured him. He later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital despite lifesaving attempts by emergency personnel. His death was announced to the public via Facebook by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management.

“We are extremely saddened by the passing of Logan Taylor. This loss is deeply felt by our ODF family and throughout the wildland fire community as a whole,” reported Southwest Oregon District Forester Tyler McCarty. “Safety remains our top priority. ODF and our partners are committed to learning from this accident and to doing everything we can to reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future.”

A Talent, Oregon native, Logan Taylor was an operator for the firefighting unit Sasquatch Reforestation. The group was contracted by the Oregon Department of Forestry to help battle the Rum Creek wildfire.

The Rum Creek wildfire began on Wednesday, August 17th. It was ignited by lightning strikes in the area near Galice, Oregon. According to InciWeb, the incident management system from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, there are over 700 personnel battling the Rum Creek wildfire. The estimated containment date is October 31.