BY ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
By Wednesday afternoon, the Kincade, Getty and Easy Fires had burned nearly 80-thousand acres across Northern and Southern California.
The fires have prompted mass evacuations of more than 200-thousand people, with much of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties under extreme red flag warnings.
Our fire season might over, but the preparation never stops.
State Rep. Jack Zika of Redmond hosted a wildfire and emergency preparedness town hall Wednesday morning in Sunriver to discuss what to do should we experience a similar catastrophe.
Police and fire officials on hand reminded folks that fire season should always be top of mind.
“Because of all of the things that are going on in California, that brings the topic to the concern of the people that live here in Sunriver because we are surrounded by forest and fire prevention and the possibility of having a fire here is a very real possibility for them,” said Sunriver Police Chief Cory Darling.
Sunriver resident Doug Hoschek and his wife have been actively attending meetings like this since witnessing first-hand how the Milli Fire impacted Sisters in 2017.
“We realized it was really dangerous, all the trees, it’s all flammable stuff,” Hoschek said.
Hoschek says he and his wife were the only Oregon residents to testify for the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Act, a bill that passed during the 2019 legislative session that provides property owners with incentives and tools to remove fuels to protect their homes from catastrophic wildfire.
He adds that it’s important for the community to be proactive rather than reactive to a future fire.
“I think we have to bring it to the surface and act like there was a fire and that now we’ve survived the fire and what are we going to do to make sure that when the next one comes we’re going to be better capable to deal with it,” he said.
Hoschek says he’s also concerned about the amount of people who live and rent in Sunriver and has been pushing for officials to perform a practice evacuation to practice how to get out in the event of a wildfire.
“We’re just going to sit here in gridlock, truthfully. My next door neighbors just moved here from Paradise,” he said. “They talked about them getting out safely and their other four children getting out safely and their friends who died. Their friends died on the road in their car because they couldn’t get out. That’s why I’ve been after them to do a practice evacuation.”
Officials did address the different avenues of evacuation during Wednesday’s meeting as well as how they notify residents about emergencies in Sunriver.
Hoschek says he understands wildfires in Central Oregon are a way of life, but urges everyone to be prepared.
“We’re on offense now, we haven’t had a fire. We’re gonna be on defense sooner rather than later.”