A Community Newspaper for the way we live

By Jim Kight, Former Mayor of Troutdale

Photo Credit: The National Wildfire Coordination Group

As I sit here at my computer in Troutdale the night air is heavy with smoke. My eyes burn, the yard and cars are covered in a very thick ash from the forest fire raging out of control in the Columbia Gorge. It started as a small fire apparently due to a young 15-year-old boy playing with fireworks. It has grown to over 10,000 acres and the fire has jumped the Columbia River and started a forest fire in Washington. The fire is still not contained but fortunately because of the firefighters from Gresham and Portland the iconic Multnomah Falls Lodge has been saved.

At home, my wife and I have been listening to the news reports both on television and radio and checking our phones if we have become untethered to the t.v. and radio. This is scary and reminds me of when Mount St. Helens blew it’s top in 1980 and coated everything with volcanic ash.

We have already called friends and asked them to take our fair-weather car, you know the one that never feels a rain drop let along gets coated with ash debris. A friend from the health club I go to has offered his help. I think about it and call him back and ask him to come. He drops everything and comes immediately to help out. Good to have friends like that. Others offer their home to stay in if things get bad enough that we are ordered to evacuate. Some are church friends and some are not. Good to have both kinds in emergencies like this and fortunately we do. We all know there is reciprocity should the shoe be on the other foot. You know the kinds of friends that at 2:00 a.m. in the morning would be at your house in a heartbeat.

The wife true to her nature as a nurse has everything organized. In the office by the door all the photos are in boxes ready to go along with the business documents. I hear my grandmother’s 1890 Seth Thomas mantel clock ticking on the floor. She is a very pragmatic girl and likes to be prepared. She has listened and followed directions of emergency management types that ask hoses to be hooked up to the bibs and pails of water to be distributed throughout the yard. Everything else is determined to be disposable and for the most part replaceable. It is funny how your home can be boiled done to the essentials of pictures (irreplaceable) and business documents.

We are at level one in Troutdale which means get ready to leave if notified. Last night the firestorm engulfed 12 miles of forest land in 8 hours. I keep hearing weather forecaster encouraging us with good news. The winds are going to be calm and rain is in the forecast..but oops it comes with lightning. Friends this is where prayer is essential and I know there are many Christians of all faiths praying that the fire will be put out and people can return to their homes.

We watched this last week as Hurricane Harvey broke all records for wind and flooding in Houston. I am now listening to the news that Hurricane Irmy is barreling towards Florida at 185 miles per hour and listed as a category 5. The computer model shows it could travel up the entire east coast and cause massive destruction.

What is going on? Dan a friend from California which has its own problems with fires called to find out how we are doing. There are so many fires throughout the United States that the fires here in Oregon weren’t even reported where he lives. He tells me there are 50 fires raging in Montana alone. What is going on I ask? What do you think?



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