Two Oregon Towns Destroyed… The Price of Global Warming

I went for a drive Saturday through the small towns of Talent and Phoenix, Oregon. It was heart-rending. Today’s post features photos of the devastation caused by the Almeda Fire.
I found this sign just across the road from the above photo.

When Donald Trump came to California two weeks ago to comment on the devastation caused by raging wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington, he was asked about the impact of global warming on the fires. Here is his response:

Well, I don’t think science knows, actually… When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry — really like a matchstick… And they can explode. Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground, it’s just fuel for the fires… It’s a management issue… It’ll start getting cooler… You just watch.

Peggy and I don’t buy the ‘It’ll start getting cooler” argument, but we do take forest management seriously. We spent $20,000 this past year doing what we could to fireproof our property. And it didn’t involve ‘sweeping the floor’ as the President recommended a couple of years ago, cleaning up the leaves and fallen branches. We had forty, 80-100 foot trees cut down on our five-acres removed. They were dead as in d.e.a.d. Ten years ago when we moved in, they were happy and healthy. The years of drought and excessive heat killed them. As it has millions of trees across the west. Yes, good forest management is important, but all the management in the world will not save forests when draught combines with 100° F heat, high winds and fire. Nor will it save towns, as Talent and Phoenix learned.

Peggy and I prepare for fire, obviously. We live in a forest. Fire comes with the territory. We spend countless hours working outside and doing what we can to reduce the danger. But we are also prepared to vacate the premises, to ‘get out of Dodge,’ to skedaddle! When a level two warning is issued, we will be packed and out of here. Forget level three. We have lists. Things are organized so we can grab and go. The greater the danger the less we will grab. Quivera the RV is packed and ready right down to clothes, tooth brushes and tooth paste, everything we need to live. If our house burns down, it will be sad, but not tragic. “We’ll just buy a new RV (sorry Quivera) and hit the road,” Peggy says.

People who live in towns and cities have different expectations. Homes burn down, yes, but not towns. Back before all of the codes designed to prevent fires were adopted and before modern fire departments came into being, they did. But not today. Except they do. Ask the residents of Talent and Phoenix, or Santa Rosa, or Paradise or numerous other small towns and cities that have been caught in the paths of raging fires over the past few years.

Peggy and I know the communities of Phoenix and Talent well. I was born in Ashland where the fire started. Until recently, our doctor’s office was in Talent. (It still stands about 200 yards away from where I took the top photo.) One of my great grandfathers and a great, great grandmother are buried in Phoenix. She came across the country in a wagon train. I fear, but don’t know for sure, that the graveyard was wiped out.

The fire came on fast and ferocious. So fast that people were literally running down the street, leaving everything behind. “It came like a huge wave,” an 82 year old woman stated. A man reported that he had been working when he heard the first warning. He dropped what he was doing, jumped in his truck, and broke speed limits heading for his home so he could save his cat. He was too late.

My Saturday drive was heart-rending as I looked at the devastation. The following photos capture just a small portion of what I saw.

Some areas were totally devastated. This photo and the following two close ups give an idea of the furnace-like heat of the fire.
Note how the roof here was literally melted. Also, I am amazed that the propane containers didn’t blow up. Safety valves must have released the gas and allowed it to burn off.
Like in most of the fire damage, it is difficult to determine exactly what you are looking at. You can spot a seat in the cab of this vehicle and a large saw blade.
This photo gives an example of just how totally things were destroyed.
Here, a chimney was left standing.
A burned out car was in front of the chimney. I rendered it in black and white. Shades of grey were how I felt.
Here’s the car by itself.
And how about this truck.
I thought this photo was interesting in that it showed a totally destroyed car but in the background is a Rite Aid the fire didn’t touch. I parked my truck in front of the store. It was open and doing business. It has always amazed me how a fire will destroy one property and not touch the one next to it.
A boat that will never sail again…
A bed mattress that will never be slept on…
A child’s wagon that will never be pulled…
A tool box with tools that will never be used…
And a doorway to nowhere…
Wasn’t sure what this was but it looked a little evil to me, like what we can expect from global warming…
And this was simply sad.
I will use this car lot for my final photo of the damage done by the fire that ravaged Talent and Phoenix. It came on fast and furious, torching anything that got in its path. There was no time to move these cars. There was barely time to get out and survive.

Global warming is real. Extreme weather will not go away by denying its existence, or by claiming “It will get cooler.” Fires will continue to rage, hurricanes will become more frequent and more powerful, polar ice will melt and the seas will rise. Expect more floods, droughts, tornadoes and other types of extreme weather. We owe it to ourselves, children, grandchildren and future generations to do everything humanly possible on a national and international level to reverse this trend. Playing ostrich and burying our heads in the sand is not the answer.