To say that 2020 has been a difficult year for working Oregonians would be an overwhelming understatement.
The last several months have brought unparalleled challenges for Oregon’s workers, with hundreds of Oregonians dead after being infected with COVID-19. Over the last few weeks, however, as a series of unprecedented wind events swept fires across Oregon and the West, an already impossible situation was met by an unimaginable disaster.
Over a span of 72 hours, thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in neighboring communities. During those three days, over one million acres burned — more than twice that of a regular fire season. For those who quickly evacuated, some were even forced to flee from emergency evacuation locations, as the fire expanded at uncontrollable rates.
In all, thousands of homes and structures have been destroyed and at least nine people lost their lives, with nine more still missing. While some Oregon communities were untouched by fire damage, most of the state endured weeks of thick, hazardous smoke. In the early weeks of the fire events, Oregon had some of the worst recorded air quality in the world.
After weeks of fighting to control our state’s largest fires, many are closer to being contained and extinguished. As of Friday, the Beachie Creek Fire, which has burned 192,882 acres, remains at 59%, Archie Creek Fire is 79% contained, and Holiday Farm Fire is now 75% contained. As of Saturday, Oregon’s least contained major fire is the Lionshead, contained at 43%, with the Riverside Fire reportedly at 54%. As containment increases, Oregon is now sending firefighters to parts of California, where uncontrolled conflagration events continue to devastate communities.
While many evacuees have been able to return home, ongoing wildfires remain present. Just last Monday, a Red Flag Warning —indicating critical fire weather conditions— was issued for southwest Oregon, while other parts of southern Oregon remained under level one evacuation orders. Both are indications that this year’s wildfire season is far from over. As Oregonians continue to face the danger and subsequent fallout of ongoing wildfire events, below is a list of information and resources to assist with recovery: RETURNING HOME FROM WILDFIRE: Don’t Return Home until Officials say it’s safe. Follow public health guidance for safe cleanup and mask usage
Wear heavy-soled shoes and protective gloves
Properly dispose of cleaners, paint, batteries, and damaged fuel containers
Discard heat smoke, or soot-exposed foods and do not consume or use potentially contaminated water.
SMOKE INFORMATION Smoke outlooks are updated daily at the links below:
RESOURCES FROM OREGONS’ UNIONS
ATU Local 757: Oregon Families Affected by Wildfires
IAM Local Lodge 63: Wildfire Resources
IAFF International: Disaster Relief Efforts
IATSE Local 28: Disaster Relief and Hardship Donations
IATSE Local 154: Donate to 154 Wildfire Relief
IBEW Local 48: Wildfire Assistance
IBEW Local 280: Displaced IBEW Members
LIUNA 483: Wildfire Resources
LIUNA 737: Wildfire Resources
Oregon AFSCME: Wildfire Resources
OFNHP: Wildfire Resources
OSEA: Wildfire Resources
UA Local 290: Wildfire Memo
For a complete list of wildfire resources, go to oregonafl.cio/wildfire-resources