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Fire officials: Now is the time to prepare


Scenes of homes burning across the West have fire officials in Central Oregon urging you to get prepared now.

“The notion for evacuation preparedness, the time for that preparedness is right now, before we have fire on our landscape,” Project Wildfire Director Kate Lighthall said Thursday.

Central Oregon is no stranger to wildfires, of course.

Many long-time residents remember the Awbrey Hall Fire that destroyed 22 homes and forced 3,000 people to evacuate Bend in August of 1990 — the first of several major wildfires to force evacuations over the two decades since.

“We lost everything, but they are just material things.” said Sally Dibvad, an evacuee of the fire at the time.

Project Wildfire, a program developed in Central Oregon, recommends to have a 72-hour kit ready to go during the fire season.

“We are encouraging people now to put those kits together,” said Lighthall. “Keep them with you in the car, in case your neighborhood is evacuated and you can’t get back to your home.”

Inside the kit, they say to have a flashlight with plenty of batteries, any prescription medications or glasses, at least a gallon of water and any important documents like insurance policies and proof or residence.

“We all have jobs,” said Lighthall. “We all have things to do. We are all busy. That planning ahead of time is so important.”

As scenes of homes burning in Colorado stream across the TV screens, officials on the High Desert say fire waits for no one. You should be ready to evacuate you home at a moment’s notice.

“It’s kind of like a family evacuation plan from inside your home, you know two ways out,” said Bend Deputy Fire Marshal T.J. Johannsen. “You need to know alternative routes for leaving your property as well.”

Johannsen says many neighborhoods within the city have designated evacuation routes. She adds if your neighborhood does not, talk to your neighborhood association.

If you are ever faced with leaving your homes, fire officials say don’t wait till it’s too late.

“If you are on the fence, and you think you may need to evacuate, just go,” said Johannsen.

Fire officials say if you are asked to evacuate this summer, make sure you check into an evacuation center, even if you don’t plan on staying. If gives friends and family a way of knowing you are safe.

For more information you can log on the Project Wildfires website at

Also, Deschutes County has a Citizen Emergency Notification System, which you can use to sign up to get emergency alerts on your cellphone, at this address:

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