Friday, April 29, 2022

La Historia de Brisa / Brisa's Fire Story


La Historia de Brisa Sobre su Experiencia con el Fuego

En el ocho de septiembre del 2020, me desperté, desayuné recuerdo que era el cumpleaños

de mi hermana, nos pusimos a ver la tele, mi mama estaba afuera y después salí a ver a mi

mama, cuando salí vi mucho humo y mi mama nos dijo: “NOS TENEMOS QUE IR


Entramos a casa y empacamos un poco, nos subimos en el carro mis hermanas y mi mama


Fuimos por mi papa a su trabajo. En el camino vimos fuego, muchos carros, humo. Me

sentía muy triste al dejar mi casa. De ahí fuimos a un lugar muy lejos y ahí nos quedamos

en la noche y al día siguiente fuimos a ver nuestra casa, que ya no estaba ahí.

Me sentí muy triste y frustrada porque perdí mis cosas, lo que más extraña es mi cama,

mis juguetes y mi trampolín.

Brisa's Story about Her Experience with the Fire

On the 8th of September 2020, I woke up and ate breakfast. I remembered that it was my

sister's birthday.

We started to watch television, My mom was outside, and I went outside to see her, when

I saw a lot of smoke, and my mom said, "WE HAVE TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!!!


We went into the house and packed up a little, then we got into the car with my sisters

and my mom was driving.

We went to get my dad at his work. On the road we saw fire, many other cars, and smoke.

I felt very sad to leave my house. From there we went to a ver faraway place and spent

the night, and the next day, we went back to see our house, which was not there.

I felt very sad and frustrated because I lost all my things. What I miss most is my bed,

my toys, and my trampoline.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Jackson County Animal Shelter Story



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Jackson County Animal Shelter Story

 Jackson County Animal Shelter Story

Interviewers: Lunette Fleming with Myke Reeser

Interviewee: Kim Casey, Program Manager for Jackson County Animal Shelter

Date: December 3, 2020

          A conscientious plan for evacuation was always in place at the shelter with drills and education for receiving animals. However, the threat of a fire within the facility, and the need for removal of animals in the shelter was not in place. 

          At about noon on September 8th, a call went out that the fire was approaching the facility. At 12:10 the electricity went out in the building, and Field Officer, Andy Swanson, concluded that they in fact had to evacuate all animals to the Expo in Medford. With limited vehicles, volunteers were transporting crated dogs and cats in their own cars and trucks. There were 36 cats and 56 dogs in crates. Five or six animals in quarantine had to stay at the facility. 

          To add to this dilemma, Highway 99 heading north was heavily congested. There were several contributing factors: Fire was engulfing Interstate 5 on both sides beginning at exit 19 (south of Talent); traffic was evacuating from Talent, causing great congestion. The wait to get away from the fire was intense. 

         A single line of fire advancing northward was the biggest threat to the shelter—it was heading toward, and possibly surrounding, the shelter area. The maintenance man, Tim, at the shelter had thankfully turned off the gas. Field Officer, Andy Swanson, actually stayed at the facility from 8 pm until about 3 am the next morning, using the hose at the building to keep the roof, trees and the building structure safe from the flames. 

          At the Expo, along with humans, the outdoor arena was used for animals. Kim Casey, the shelter’s program manager, stayed at the Expo for nine days. In addition to the animals in the shelter, other pets and livestock were evacuated to the Expo. There were rabbits, birds, goats, chickens, llamas, pigs, and cows. There were also rodeo animals: bucking horses, 36 cutting horses, and 3 unidentified horses. Twenty-eight thousand pounds of animal food was consumed at the Expo from September 8th through the 21st. The animal rescue was a remarkable event made successful by amazingly devoted people working together. 

           In the aftermath of the fire and rescue, two vans were donated to the Jackson County Animal shelter for use in future emergencies.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Husband Stays To Save His Home

By Lunette 

My husband, San, and I spent the morning of September 8, 2020 cleaning up damage from the wind storm from the night before then I prepared for a day of errands in Ashland and Medford.  Around 11 a.m. I started my car.  That is when I saw a column of smoke billowing up in the direction of Ashland.  I went back in the house and called my husband to come take a look.  I told him it might be a good idea to think about what might be needed if a fire should come our way.  After looking at the column of smoke he said, “maybe you should stay home today.”  Well, I didn’t stay home.  By the time I reached the intersection of West Valley View and South Pacific Hwy. the road South was clogged with traffic so I turned around and decided to do my errands in Medford first.

As I drove to Medford I turned the radio on hoping to hear of any emergency evacuation news.  Since there was no mention of a fire in the valley, I proceeded to run errands while keeping the radio on.  By 1:30 p.m. I was in East Medford on North Phoenix Road.  I could see the smoke growing closer to Phoenix and became alarmed.  I headed home via N. Phoenix Road.  I was able to get across Hwy. 99 in bumper to bumper traffic by going through Ray’s Market to Cheryl Street, past the High School on Rose Street and eventually reached Colver Road.  The oncoming traffic on Colver Road by now was a mix of bumper to bumper cars and Semi trucks heading towards Medford.  I was headed toward the home we had just moved to 5 months earlier at the railroad crossing on Talent’s NW border.  The cars traveling in my direction were stop and go. 

When I reached my home, my daughter in law and two grand daughters were watching the helicopters fly back and forth on the highway near us.  I decided we wouldn’t wait any longer to be told to evacuate.  My husband refused to come with us confident the 3 acres of green grass surrounding our home would keep us safe.  I loaded my disabled mother, my 3 ½ year old granddaughter and my dog in the car while my daughter in law followed me with her 1 ½ year old daughter in her car.  We headed to my brother’s house in West Medford by turning off Colver Road at Pioneer Road and taking Dark Hollow.  When we arrived at my brother’s house around 3:00 p.m. he was surprised to see us.  He didn’t even know there was a fire.  Soon my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin arrived from their home in Medford Estates, and finally my son arrived but without my husband.  A retired Ashland fire fighter friend called to see if we were all safe.  When I told him that Sanford had stayed behind he was very concerned.  He said the fire had likely already burned through that area.  That’s when our son left to try to find his dad.

 It was dark by the time Justin and San arrived in Medford.  My sister in law prepared food for all 10 evacuees while we watched reports on the laptop, I had brought with me, and the television.  After eating, my husband said he wanted to go back to check on things.  I refused to take him.  Sanford is legally blind with less than 10% of his field of vision, so, unless someone else was crazy enough to drive him home he would just have to stay put with the rest of us.  That is when my brother volunteered to take him home.  What’s a woman to do with men like that?  Off they went.  By this time there were wide spread power outages in Talent and Phoenix.  Orange embers and flames lit up the darkness looking East and South.  We listen to the emergency radio calls on the KOBI facebook page.  It didn’t sound good.  It sounded bad, very bad. 

Sometime among reports that Medford Estates had burned, Phoenix and Talent were in ashes, the Rogue Valley Manor was being evacuated, and my brother’s neighborhood was at a level 2 evacuation notice, by brother called on his cell phone to tell me that our property was surrounded by 20 foot tall flames of fire.  Sanford was driving the riding lawnmower along the burning fence line hoping to keep the flames from reaching our home.  When my son heard this, he took off again to help his dad.  I reminded my brother that we had a generator that could run the well pump so they could use water to fight the flames if they were crazy enough to stay there.  Well, they got the generator going and gathered up all the hoses they could find.  My brother directed my husband to cut the grass between the burning blackberries on the western fence line between our field and our neighbor’s field before it reached the large briar patch with trees around our neighbor’s house.  While driving the mower through the gate opening my husband ran into the burning fence post.  Flames went under the mower and up the sides of the mower but San was able to back up before damage was done to the mower or himself.  My brother fought the fire with a shovel and by carrying buckets of water across the hay field from the house to quench the burning fence posts and stop the progression of the fire along the western fence while my husband subdued the flames on the eastern side of the property with a garden hose and sprinklers.

When my brother called to report that the flames had died down enough that it would be safe to come home, I drove the back roads, arriving home around midnight with flames still burning along the railroad tracks as far as I could see both ways.  When my husband left the field around 2 a.m. on September 9, we could still hear explosions in the distance.  When we fell into a troubled sleep, we had no idea how much of Talent was left or if the fire would flare up in the night, but, because we had a generator, we had water and lights and believed we would be safe for the time being. 

We wouldn’t find out for days what had been burned and what had been spared because there were road blocks in many places.  My son’s Talent home on 2nd street was spared but because the power was out and the water was off his family ate meals and stayed with us during the day and then went home at night to prevent looting.  A neighbor living in Candlewood Park came by during the days before Talent’s water was on to fill up 5-gallon jugs from our well to share with his neighbors.  We had to drive the back roads to West Medford to get gasoline for the generator.  Nearly every time we drove to Medford we were met with new road blocks that changed from day to day because new fires flared up around Phoenix.  On one trip to get gas, my son was blocked on his way home from driving to Colver Road.  He had to go back to Griffin Creek and drive up the mountain roads, out of cell phone range, to Anderson Creek Road and come down Wagner Creek Road to get home.  The deputies manning the road blocks couldn’t tell drivers which roads to take to get home.  We just had to figure it out ourselves.

My family has lived in Talent for nearly 60 years so we were able to figure it out, getting food and gas by using different back country roads between Talent and Medford, but we couldn’t figure out how to get to Ashland.  We had been told that Talent Avenue was closed, the Phoenix, Talent, and North Ashland I-5 Exits were closed and Hwy. 99 was closed between the intersections with South Stage Road and South Valley View Road, but once, while I was on my way back from Costco, I got on the freeway without thinking, didn’t remember the closures until I got to exit 21.  I had to turn around at exit 14 and go back to Medford and then through trial and error discover the path back to Colver Road via Dark Hollow, etc.  When Voorhies Road was blocked I asked the Deputy Sherriff, “How do I get back to Talent from here?”  He didn’t know.  Good thing my mother and father loved trying new country roads when I was a kid growing up on Wagner Creek Road.  By the time I got home with a Costco roasted chicken and Costco pumpkin pie it was late and I was tired but I made mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and green salad.  That evening I celebrated a Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family.  Thanking God for surviving the worst natural catastrophe we had ever experienced.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Jackson Wellsprings: The Fire Story

The Men's Gathering Place at Jackson Wellsprings

Faery Ring at Jackson Wellsprings
Photos courtesy of Debra Moon

Jackson Wellsprings: The Fire Story

This story by Debra appeared in the November issue of the Talent News & Review


Jackson Wellsprings, a 35-acre property between Ashland and Talent, has been a beloved site for local residents and visitors for centuries. It was threatened by the Alameda fire and saved by a handful of people. 


Priestess Graell, steward of the site, describes it this way, “The Wellsprings were protected by love, water dragons, front liners, first responders, global and local prayers, miracles, and truly dedicated guardians.”


Many people currently living in Ashland or Talent have believed the area to be a Hippie trailer park. Graell says this belief is somewhat of a gargoyle that allows the current users to enjoy the place in peace. In reality, the Wellsprings are much more. The ground at Jackson Wellspings has been considered sacred and the waters healing since its time of use by local native people. Through the centuries it was a place where waring native tribes laid down their weapons to partake of the healing spirit and waters of the site. It was a place of spirituality, peace and neutrality. It was also a place that native women came to for the birth of their babies 


The springs, giving 80,000 gallons of mineral waters daily into the pools, were first developed in Ashland in 1862 when Eugenia Jackson decided they should be open to the public. They were first known as Jackson Hot Springs (named after Eugenia). They are one of eight remaining hot springs in Southern Oregon. The Wellsprings spa, event facilities and gardens offer a healing environment to relax, enjoy and gather. The land is also home to the non-profit, Health Research Institute (HRI), which sponsors educational, botanical and environmental restoration projects. HRI and the Wellsprings are dedicated to promoting optimal human and environmental health. 


On September 7th there was a horrific windstorm that increased to 45-mile-per-hour winds. The next morning a handful of people living at the Wellsprings, and caretaking the grounds, were busy cleaning up trees on the roads and trails, and branches everywhere. At 11 am on the 8th, a half-acre grass fire started at Alameda Drive, close by. This was a fire that would consume 3,200 acres and destroy 2,600 structures in our area. At 11:53 am the police ordered the self-appointed fire fighters to leave, evacuate the area. But they did not leave. Graell sent out a Facebook blast calling for help and prayers. She reached out to other goddess temples: in Prague, Hawaii, Mount Shasta. Locals began showing up to help.


Because of covid—the grounds at the Wellsprings had been basically closed for 6 months and were somewhat overgrown. This was a dangerous situation. They dug a portable water tank out of high brush and began filling it from the largest pool on the property. They made numerous trips from the pool to the road bringing 200 gallons each time. They were soaking the Bear Creek Greenway. 


Cotton trees started exploding from the heat (they are filled with water). The Burger King across the road exploded, then cars started exploding. Graell said it was like a war zone, and none of the helpers had had any time to put on proper fire gear. She fought the fire in a cotton dress, and Herve, her life-partner and a very instrumental person in saving the Wellsprings, was wearing his normal work clothes. He is an arborist, The Tree Gardener.  Graell was helping with hoses and directing fire fighters from small crews to the pool, where they too were obtaining water to fight the fire. Meantime the wind continued to drive the flames further and higher. 


A larger fire crew came over to help Herve at the Wellsprings. At the Wellsprings, the pump drawing water from the pool had quit working after about 20 uses, and the crew helping Herve had turned into a bucket brigade. The larger crew eventually had to keep moving with the fire to prevent more damage down the road, and the local guardians were left with follow-through at the Wellsprings. The flames had jumped the road and were continuing northward down the side of the street that the Wellsprings were on. 


Fire in the trees that had started low, was now traveling up the center of the trees and dropping exploding fire balls from the treetops. The local residents and helpers had to be diligent to put these out quickly as they fell. They had to also mop up coals on the ground and extinguish sparks from the trees. Seven people fought the fire on the property from 11 am on the 8th until 5 am on the 9th, without stopping. At 5 am the group finally was able to lay down for a couple of hours of sleep. They slept on the ground in order to detect any change of wind or uprising of fire. 


Roads were blocked, and to add insult to injury, Graell had to deal with hordes of cars trying to cut through the Wellsprings to avoid the roadblocks. The area went into Emergency Mode and set up a fire safety station. They were on alarm for seven days. Many agencies provided food, water and supplies, including the Ashland Resource Center (Gnomadic Jack and LeBeau), Asha, a goddess attendant, provided global disaster relief, and the Food Bank in Medford of course sent food. 


Many thanks to all brave souls who stayed and saved this place from fire. They did also, with ingenious problem solving and persistence in their efforts,  slow, or stop, the spread of fire from that location forward. And they helped preserve a historic site. 



















      On September 8, 2020, a fire was started at the North end of Ashland, Oregon, on a street named Almeda.  Sixty-mile-an-hour winds blow...