Oregon Governor Invokes Emergency Act Due to Wildfire, Residents Told to Evacuate

Oregon Governor Invokes Emergency Act Due to Wildfire, Residents Told to Evacuate
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 10, 2020. (Cathy Cheney/Pool Photo via AP)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Residents in Oregon are advised to be prepared and follow all evacuation orders after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Saturday invoked the state’s Emergency Conflagration Act in response to a wildfire in the state’s southwest.

The Rum Creek Fire burning outside the town of Galice in Josephine County is “currently estimated to be 4,700 acres in size,” according to the governor’s office.

“The Josephine County Sheriff’s office has put Level 2 and Level 3 evacuations,” the announcement also reads.

A Level 2 evacuation means “be set to evacuate” and that residents “should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family or friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.”

Meanwhile, a Level 3 evacuation means residents “need to leave immediately!” Residents are also advised to not delay leaving to gather belongings or make efforts to protect their homes. According to the county, if residents ignore the advice, they “must understand that emergency services may not be available to assist you further.”

Brown, a Democrat, determined that the fire poses a “threat to life, safety, and property” and the threat “exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.”

The declaration of the Emergency Conflagration Act enables the state to provide additional resources and mobilize state firefighters to help and coordinate with local firefighters battling the fire.

“The Rum Creek Fire grew rapidly overnight, requiring additional resources to battle the fire and support the state’s response,” Brown said in a statement. “This is a good reminder that conditions can change quickly, and that fire knows no bounds. 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.”

The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is moving its Blue Incident Management Team to fight the fire. The team will assume unified command with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the federal team.

According to the governor’s office, the OSFM has also mobilized four structural task forces from Douglas, Linn, Clackamas, and Lincoln Counties. The task forces are composed of 53 firefighters, 16 engines, and 4 water tenders.