News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Residents threatened by Grandview Fire grateful for response

The residents living up Wilt Road and in Squaw Creek Canyon Estates were particularly impacted by the Grandview Fire that broke out on Sunday, July 11 — and they witnessed the extraordinary work performed to safeguard the community.

The residents of Squaw Creek Canyon Estates were so thankful for the efforts put forward by the firefighting personnel, that they ran an ad in this week’s Nugget thanking them. There was such an outpouring of support that, after the cost of the ad was covered, they still had over $1,900 left to donate to the Wildland Firefighter’s Foundation to support families of those who died or were injured in the line of duty while fighting wildfires. To donate, go to www.wffoundation.org. Neighborhood resident Wendy Birnbaum spearheaded the ad and donation effort, aided by Karen Thrower who designed the ad.

Rennie Merrill, who lives up above Sisters, told The Nugget, “I live out here in the hinterland, and I can tell you about how kind and helpful our local Sisters-Camp Sherman firefighters have been.

Our volunteers deserve particular recognition as they had to worry about their families and everyone else.

Anytime night or day….

I have seen someone talking to them, getting the scoop! Their presence has been comforting and each time I have encountered them, they have been caring and responsive.

One told me things were looking so much better that he thought I could sleep well that night.

And I did.

In the earlier days information was sparse, but ‘Our Guys’ were here to talk even though they could not tell us much.

Never underestimate how them just being here with us made a difference.

We are very lucky to have them.”

Another resident to the north, Clara Hughes, offered, “I want to express our appreciation to everyone who worked so hard keeping our little community in Squaw Creek Canyon Estates safe! Their presence was so comforting. I loved that they canvassed the area talking with people, walking our property to ensure safety, and making notes of propane tanks and water sources. It gave us a sense of peace and security. These guys were absolutely amazing — and many of them were from Washington state.

Rebecca French of Bald Eagle Music lives up on Mustang Drive and painted a picture of living with the fire.

“The tanker trucks and fire trucks were here from Yamhill, Multnomah, and other counties. The bombers were flying overhead with the rumble of the helicopters in the distance. The thick ash and burnt pondo bark were drifting and blowing with the wind gusts. The sun was a burning ball through the thick smoke. When the wind shifted and cleared the sky, we witnessed a golden eagle flying over our heads. There was a moment’s sense of peace and calm.”

Officers from the Sisters office of the Deschutes County Sheriff patrolled the neighborhoods off Wilt Road while the residents were evacuated from their homes, providing peace of mind to residents who had to leave all their belongings behind.

Many of the firefighters commented that most of the homes in Squaw Creek Canyon Estates seemed defensible and prepared for fire safety.

That is thanks to the volunteers at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Station 703 and Firewise Committee led by Doug Myers, a retired fire battalion chief who lives in the neighborhood.

Along with the all-volunteer crew from the neighborhood station, Myers helped educate, encourage, and instruct the homeowners on how to make their properties defensible.

They held meetings at the fire hall, organized work parties to clear brush and trim trees, and other tasks to create and maintain safe, defensible spaces.

The neighbors offered their thanks to Myers and the crew from Station 703 for their guidance, perseverance, and continued dedication to their neighbors’ safety.

Myers is still fighting fires and was out on the front lines on that first Sunday when the fire started and, pushed by winds, ran toward the neighborhood. Myers and three other members of Station 703 jumped into action with a light brush engine and large water tender. Crews from Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD, Cloverdale RFPD, and Black Butte Ranch Rural Fire District provided structure protection until the governor brought in statewide fire crews late Monday evening.

Firefighting runs in the Myers family. Myers’ son Stefan is a Public Affairs Officer with his father’s former department, as well as being the lead Public Information Officer with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Incident Management Team, which was deployed to Sisters to help manage the logistics, safety, structure protection, and public information at the Grandview Fire.

 

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