By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Fire management officials are going the extra mile to keep evacuees informed of what’s happening on the fire lines.
Daily briefings are being held at the hotels where many evacuees are staying until they can return home.
“Are there any containment lines on the Holiday Farm Fire?” asked an evacuee.
“Neither the Beachie Creek or the Holiday Farm have any containment as yet,” responded public information officer Kassidy Kern.
Fire managers are making daily presentations about the Beachie Creek, Holiday Farm and Lionsheads fires to evacuees at local hotels where they are being put up by the Red Cross.
The fire information updates are presented at 1 p.m. at the My Place hotel in Bend, and 2 p.m. at the Super 8 in Redmond.
Friday, the news was positive.
Winds have calmed, fire growth is slowing and firefighters who were initially focused on rescuing people and protecting homes are beginning to go on the offensive.
“The updates are really good. We had two yesterday which was really informative,” said Jason Houle, manager of The Lodge at Detroit Lake. “Today I’ve got this card to start with the Lionshead Fire information so as soon as we’re done here I’m going to go up, get online and find out what’s going on with that.”
The most frequently asked question at the fire information updates is “When can evacuees go back?”
The answer so far is not yet and not sure when.
Many evacuees have tried to return to see what’s left of their homes or businesses and been turned back at roadblocks through which only fire and emergency personnel are allowed to pass.
“There’s a lot of reasons not to travel down the highway, keeping it clear for firefighters and equipment is the highest priority right now,” said Peter Murphy, ODOT Public Information Officer. “Honestly, it seems like people are getting the message at this point so, thank you for doing that and understand, we are on your side. We are just trying to keep you safe.”
Lou and Jason Houle discovered the Lodge at Detroit Lake is partially standing by watching videos recorded by fire support personnel as they drove through impacted areas.
“The superior side of the lodge is burnt down,” said Lou Houle. “The traditional side is still up and the restaurant is still there. And our house was in the corner, as far we know it’s still there, which would be great so we’ll have a place for the essential workers so we can start rebuilding.”
Sheltering at My Place is a bit ironic for the Houles.
Jason helped build and maintained the hotel.
“I opened this place four and a half years ago. We left this place to go run the Lodge at Detroit Lake so we’ve come full circle,” he said.
Fire managers encourage evacuees to monitor official sources of information such as the Forest Service and county sheriffs departments rather than be alarmed by rumors of looting that have circulated on social media.