Oregon Gov. Kate Brown requests emergency federal assistance for wildfires

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Sept. 9, 2020 7:06 p.m. Updated: Sept. 9, 2020 8:52 p.m.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is requesting federal assistance for wildfires burning across the state. That request will “free up federal resources to support our response efforts,” Brown said. That includes search and rescue, shelter and food support, mortuary assistance and more.

“Over the last 24 hours, Oregon has experienced unprecedented fire with significant damage,” Brown said in a news conference Wednesday.

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“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Brown said.

Related: Live updates: Follow this story for the latest on wildfires burning across Oregon

The cities of Detroit, east of Salem, Blue River and Vida, east of Eugene and Springfield, and Phoenix and Talent, in southwestern Oregon, are “substantially destroyed,” Brown said.

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There are currently five incident management teams fighting 35 wildfires in Oregon, Brown said, with multiple smaller fires continuing to erupt. Brown said currently, more than 300,000 acres are burning across Oregon.

“Our number one priority right now is saving lives,” Brown said.

Oregon’s congressional delegation supported Brown’s request for a state Emergency Declaration in a letter sent Wednesday to President Donald Trump.

“Given the severity and speed in which these fires are spreading across the state, we urge you to expedite the declaration process to ensure that local communities have the resources they need to respond to and recover quickly from these devastating wildfires,” the delegation wrote.

Multiple large and small wildfires are burning across the state, strengthened by high winds and low humidity. These extreme weather conditions are expected to continue through Thursday, according to fire officials.

“At this time in Western Oregon, and in fact, anywhere in the state, all individuals should be really prepared [to evacuate] at a minute’s notice,” Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal, said in a news conference Wednesday.

This story will be updated.

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