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Central Oregon fire crews head to Colorado


Panic hit Colorado Wednesday as thousands of people tried to get to their homes and grab what they could before fast-moving wildfires destroy everything.

A woman, frantic with worry, tried to plead her case to get past a police road blockade.

Scenes like that are playing out all over the West as wildfires rip across several states.

“We just escaped with our children and our animals,” said Samme Newman, an evacuee. “We thought we could stop here at another place, but now we are moving on again.”

Now, Central Oregon is joining the fight, sending some of its resources to help fight the massive blazes.

“We are in a fire-prone landscape,” said Jean Nelson-Dean of the Deschutes National Forest. “I think we can really relate to the concern that those folks are experiencing.”

Central Oregonians are fighting fires in six different states.

The Redmond Hotshots have been called to the High Park fire in Colorado, while the Prineville Hotshots have been sent to the Russels Camp fire in Wyoming.

Everything from engines to smoke jumpers have been sent to other wildfires in Utah, Montana, New Mexico and Alaska.

“In our region, we are at at Fire Preparedness Level 4,” said Nelson-Dean. “Which means, we’re sending out a lot of resources.”

With so many men and women from the High Desert gone, some may be left feeling unprotected here at home. The Forest Service says not to worry.

“Our fire season generally will be later in the season,” said Nelson-Dean. “We have had all this rain. It doesn’t mean we won’t have a fire. We are prepared for that. We just try to make sure priorities are set where they need to be.”

As fires continue to rip across Colorado, fire officials locally say this should come as a reminder to be prepared. You never know when a fire like Waldo Canyon could happen in our own backyard.

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