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Wildfire

Rogue Valley Wildfires Push Many From Their Homes

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April Ehrlich
/
JPR News
The Interstate 5 onramp in Phoenix showed flames and smoke nearby.

Widespread and rapidly expanding evacuation orders from Ashland through Medford to Eagle Point forced many to seek shelter in a hurry as two major wildfires, driven by strong, hot winds, roared through the valley.

Jill Radford was at her home in Talent when she got a call from her daughter about a fire heading toward her. So she started packing her bags, hoping her son would be home soon with the car.

But he couldn’t make it. The roads leading into Talent were closed. A police officer soon knocked on her door and told her to leave immediately and to try hitching a ride to an evacuation center.

“I asked nine people to give me a ride and I was told no, very rudely, numerous times,” Radford recalled. “And some lady very sweetly picked me up and brought me here. And here I am.”

Radford had to leave one of her dogs and a cat behind. She doesn’t think her house is still standing.

If that’s the case, she’d be one of at least dozens of people who lost their homes to this fast-growing fire. Many of those homes are located in mobile home parks lining Bear Creek near the I-5 freeway.

Edward Hancock recalls what he saw when the fire reached his home at the Bear Creek Mobile Home Park outside Ashland: “Dark smoke coming in,” he says. “I heard popping and houses blowing up and on fire.”

Hancock sat with several of his neighbors from the park on a patch of lawn at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, where the county set up a temporary evacuation center.

The Almeda Drive Fire was one of two wildfires spreading quickly through Jackson County yesterday. Another — called the South Obenchain Fire — started east of Eagle Point.

JPR is posting updates on the Almeda Drive Fire here.