Wildfires raging in California hit close to home

Eugene Springfield Fire Chief, Chris Paskett said wildfires can spark wherever, whenever.

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 5:53 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 6:17 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Wildfires raging though northern and southern California are raising concerns all across the west, including in Eugene.

The South Hills area of Eugene has a similar topography to Paradise, California which was ravaged by the Camp Fire earlier this month.

Scott Lilley, owner of Lox, Stocks and Bagels in the South Hills, said evacuating is his biggest concern if a massive wildfire like the Camp Fire in northern California were to break out locally.

He said he hopes there would be at least some warning before a massive wildfire were to break out.

Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Chris Paskett said wildfires can spark wherever, whenever.

"My best advice or the best case scenario would be for folks just to -- if they live in these areas with high vegetation, large trees, evergreen trees -- to just have a heightened sense of awareness," Paskett said.

He said even though winter is coming, grass and vegetation fires can happen anytime. He's hoping the rainy season ahead will alleviate some concerns.

He also agrees with Lilley that traffic would be a major problem. That's why he's asking everyone to pre-plan evacuation routes.

"We have seen from the Camp Fire that there's a lot of congestion in certain areas. And especially if everyone feels like one route is going to be the quickest or the easiest for them, it could be congested very quickly, so we invite people to think through that before an incident occurs," he said.

South Hills resident Tim Mckeon said the thought is never far from his mind.

"We're at risk all the time," Mckeon said. "I don't think we realize how at risk we are."

Paskett said the department is prepared for a fire of this magnitude with resources from the city, county and the state.

"The idea is we would respond into the neighborhood with the resources as soon as possible," Paskett said.

He said this would be done through a community response network to alert residents of evacuations.

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