Residents eager to visit homes

There have been lines of cars on Highway 126 near the road blocks in Walterville as residents are anxious to see if their homes survived the Holiday Farm Fire.

Posted: Sep 19, 2020 7:32 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2020 10:24 PM

WALTERVILLE, Ore. -- The Holiday Farm Fire has burned more than 173,000 acres destroying hundreds of structures and homes.

There have been cars lined up on Highway 126 near the road blocks in Walterville this week full of residents eager to see if their homes survived. 

"If it was my house that was burnt up I would want to know," McKenzie Fire & Rescue Chief Darren Bucich says. "I'd want to see if there was any valuables left. I'd want to see. The houses that are down to foundations, again, we are going to do everything we can to see if there is something you can salvage."

Bucich says he understands people's frustrations.

"There's a lot of areas that didn't receive zero fire damage," Bucich says. "Everyday the team has got to make a decision what they're going to do."

When residents stop at the road blocks they must show ID for proof of residence in a safe area. Residents are only allowed to visit their property. Officials discourage residents from checking on a neighbor's or friend's home.

"We start getting too much population on the road," Bucich says. "Really, if they can't follow the guidelines it's going to cause problems for other people."

If given the go-ahead officials ask not to approach any emergency vehicles or personnel. 

"It's based on what's going on with traffic," Bucich says. "It's based on how much acitvity they got. They are trying as hard as they can to get people back."

Blue River resident Rocky Henderson was relieved to hear his home survived and hopes others are able to get some clarity too.

"It's sad," Henderson says. "They're my neighbors. It's an incredible community up this river. It's a privilege and honor to be a part of this community. We will pull together and help each other."

The road is only open from 9 AM to 7 PM. Officials says those who work graveyard shifts and aren't able to make that time slot are asked to shelter-in-place as the roads are very dangerous at night. 

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