A new staging area for wildfire disaster trailers has rumors flying and has attracted visitors armed with guns.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has about a hundred trailers set aside for wildfire survivors from Jackson County.
It originally had those trailers staged at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, known as the Expo, as officials looked for potential housing sites nearby. But they recently had to relocate them three hours away to an old mill in Gardiner, which is on the coast north of Reedsport.
Since then, FEMA officials say they’ve been fielding phone calls from locals concerned about the trailers’ sudden appearance.
“A lot of conspiracy theories that we were developing this RV park for immigrants from the southern border,” says FEMA spokesman Paul Corah. “The truth is we need those mobile homes for fire survivors in Oregon.”
Some calls have come from local and national media, including two people who said they represented the American Free Press, a far-right newspaper. Corah says they showed up to the site carrying sidearms — which alarmed some FEMA staffers — but the incident ended without physical confrontation. The newspaper didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Despite the rumors, Corah says all of these trailers are intended for wildfire survivors and the agency isn’t currently housing undocumented immigrants in Oregon.