Throughout the past couple weeks — as the Crook County area was ravaged with fires like much of Oregon — signs have popped up in town thanking the firefighters for their efforts.

Homes and businesses alike have gone to the trouble of expressing their gratitude and we would like to do the same.

After two major fire incidents of more than 10,000 acres overtook the Ochocos, firefighters from throughout the region sprang into action. Now the Ochoco Complex, near the Post and Paulina area, is about 80 percent contained and the perimeter of the Waterman Complex outside Mitchell is fully contained. This is no small accomplishment given the high temperatures, parched land, and gusty winds the firefighters faced.

However, we cannot thank the firefighters alone for the progress made. Seemingly from hour one of the Bailey Butte Fire, one of three comprising the Waterman Complex, local law enforcement, government, and road agencies have worked together to ensure that human life was protected. ODOT closed the highway and went to work trying to clear the road of fallen trees. American Red Cross set up shelters for displaced residents.

When the Ochoco Complex fires erupted, local forest and law enforcement personnel provided ongoing evacuation notices and stayed on top of the situation in an effort to keep people safe.

It doesn’t end with local agencies either. The community also benefitted from an established incident response system that provides local entities resources at the state and federal level when needed.

Sometimes, bureaucracy can slow down the allocation of out-of-area resources, but that wasn’t the case here. Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency, and not long after, reinforcements from out of county — even out of state — came to our aid. Perhaps some of you noticed fire engines from Utah and Colorado in town during the past couple weeks.

We applaud the swift and organized action that many groups took when we needed it. Everyone is doing their job and doing it well. Thank you firefighters, and all of the agencies that made their job easier.

Contract Publishing

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