An estimated 8,000 people are battling a series of 24 raging fires in Oregon, most notably Chetco Bar Fire, which has engulfed nearly 180,000 acres, and the Eagle Creek wildfire which is threatening the eastern edge of Portland. The Eagle Creek fire has burned 33,000 acres and while Oregon firefighters are starting to make some headway, containing about 5% of the fire through burnouts conducted on Wednesday, more resources are needed throughout the state. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Governor Kate Brown previously asked the Trump administration for help and they flatly refused any assistance:
But if there is wildfire management to second-guess, Oregon’s Democratic governor would direct it at the Trump Administration and its response to a request she made last month.
“I talked with the federal authorities two weeks ago, asking for additional federal assistance, I was told point-blank ‘no’,” said Brown.
The U.S. Forest Service has been helping, and Oregon is expecting the arrival of 200 active duty military from Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington.
But Gov. Brown argued federal officials should be directing more resources to Oregon, because of the disproportionate degree of fire danger in the state. Brown’s numbers and those from the National Interagency Fire Center tell a similar story: that Oregon accounts for nearly one-third of the scorched acres in the country. Of 1.5 million acres or more burning across the country about a half million acres are in Oregon.
Sadly, the Eagle Creek fire was reportedly started by a teenager throwing fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon:
“I saw this kid throw a smoke bomb — just lobbed it and dropped it down into the woods. … I saw him throw something that was on fire. Then we all looked over the edge and saw smoke,” she said. “I said, ‘Do you realize how dangerous this is?’”
Law enforcement caught up with the suspect before he left the area:
One suspect has been identified as a 15-year-old male from Vancouver, Washington. Oregon State Police spokesman Bill Fugate said if charged, the suspect could face the same state charges as an adult. Fugate said OSP will release the suspect’s name if and when charges are filed. It is believed he and others may have been using fireworks which started the forest fire along the Eagle Creek Trail.