Saturday marked the official start of Oregon’s wildfire season, but without new resources the state is only incrementally more prepared to combat fire this summer than in past years.
Over consecutive summers, fire ripped through iconic landscapes, endangered communities and choked towns with blankets of smoke. The state has already seen more than 1,000 acres burn this year.
In a winter where priorities abound, wildfire preparedness has not come out a winner.
“In this biennium, we need a lifeline for our communities,” said state Rep. Pam Marsh, R-Ashland. Marsh’s district was ablaze through much of the summer, with fire coming dangerously close to structures.
In addition to putting the community in danger, wildfires had massive economic impacts. The famous Shakespeare festival had to cancel events, costing it an estimated $2 million.
Firefighters checked the wildfires, Marsh said, but the scorched town of Paradise, Calif., is a reminder that Ashland may not always be so lucky.