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Extraordinary Efforts Save Family Home

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09/25/2018

As devastating wildfires continue, one family in Oregon feels grateful and relieved. 

Matt Morris has lived in Oregon his entire life and has never felt the impact of a wildfire, until now.

What started as a thunderstorm would set the stage for a raging wildfire that would force hundreds of people to leave their homes in the Merlin and Grants Pass area. Over 250 lightning strikes hit southern Oregon in late July which caused fires to quickly spread throughout the area. 

Morris’ house was about four miles from his nearest neighbor, but when the fires started to spread, the community rallied together to do what they could to help protect each other’s homes. For Morris, this meant securing the perimeter of his property and home. Morris and his neighbors did the best they could but after a few very long days, the fires kept coming. 

It was when they thought all hope was lost that crews from Rural Metro Fire, Grayback Forestry and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) showed up on the scene. 

“Our goal is to ensure these fires never make it to a resident’s home and we do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen,” explains Austin Prince, Rural Metro Division Chief. “Engine crews, handcrews, bulldozers, water trucks and aircraft are deployed along the edges of a fire to help keep homes safe.”

“I have never witnessed such a great coordination between agencies,” Morris said. “Rural Metro Fire, ODF and Grayback worked tirelessly to notify residents and contain the fires. Their efforts were nothing less than extraordinary.” 

As the fire reached closer to his property line, an evacuation order was issued—it was time for Morris to let the fire crews do their jobs. “It was hard to leave,” Morris adds, “but a house is just a house and not worth getting hurt over.”

After many long, exhausting hours, crews were able to keep the flames from getting to the Morris’ home. “The crews were amazing,” Morris adds. “They worked around the clock to warn residents and fight back the flames, when everyone else was running away, they stayed.”
Many of the crew at Rural Metro Fire not only work in the community they serve but live there as well. These dedicated professionals are committed to keeping their neighborhoods and their neighbors out of harm’s way.

In the end, the Morris family home was spared thanks to the efforts of Rural Metro Fire and their community partners.

Preparedness Pays Off
As was the case with these fires, wildfires can spread quickly igniting brush, trees and homes.

Know what to do if a wildfire is near your property:
  • Connect a garden hose to a faucet and leave buckets full of water around your house
  • Shut all interior and exterior doors and leave them unlocked
  • Place a ladder outside for roof access
  • Have an evacuation plan prepared in advance and listen to evacuation orders

If you must evacuate know the five Ps to take with you: people and pets, important papers, prescriptions, pictures and your personal computer

Rural Metro Fire, a division of American Medical Response, is the national leader in private fire protection services for dozens of unincorporated communities around the nation. Their subscription-based model provides homeowners access to help with fire prevention and suppression, medical emergencies and annual home safety checks.