After the wildfire, Oregon residents felt the weight of their losses.
The canyon river fire has burned more than 54,000 acres in Oregon. Now, Amanda Peacher of the Oregon public broadcasting company reports that those who have lost their assets are working hard.
TESS VIGELAND, host:
In the back of the United States, a comprehensive fire in the canyon river in eastern Oregon has burned more than 67,000 acres and destroyed at least 39 homes. Some residents have returned to the dark landscape and piles of charred rubble, once homes and trees. Now they feel the weight of their loss. Amanda, a public broadcaster in Oregon, has more.
AMANDA PEACHER, wire: Tad Houpt turns his pickup truck onto a narrow dusty road. Through this river, everything was scorched.
TAD HOUPT: this is part of my real lost property.
PEACHER: Houpt is a recorder who has lived here for more than 40 years. On this hill, he owns about 400 acres of wood. Nearly a quarter of the land was burned.
HOUPT: see how it kills these almost?
PEACHER: he points to a huge pine forest. Their trunks were black and their needles were brown, but he wanted to save the heart of the trees.
HOUPT: see, if these bugs don’t get any bugs, those trees will be like this.
PEACHER: just like you lose your property in a fire, Houpt isn’t sure about his future.
HOUPT: this is my brother’s savings. This – we put money into the land and manage the wood.
PEACHER: the day the fire broke out, Houpt and his brother were busy driving their logging equipment down the mountain.
HOUPT: we heard it growling about 40 minutes before it came here.
PEACHER: but when moving some equipment, Houpt drops.
HOUPT: no, I know I broke my leg when I was right. I heard it shrink.
PEACHER: he keeps his stiff leather boots tight. Then he and his brother drove around the mountains before going to the doctor to save more logging equipment.
HOUPT: yes, let me tell you, it’s very painful – when the leg is broken, push the truck onto the log truck.
PEACHER: in the next few months, the trees that can be saved will need to be cut down. Houpt hopes he can still do some of his work despite leg injuries. Most of the destroyed land in this canyon is private. Landowners like Houpt are trying to get some aid and recovery from the state, but are not sure when or whether it will pass. Not far away, in John dale, ore., courtney fox sells shopping carts through a Red Cross relief center. A volunteer is helping her replace what she lost when she burned her home.
Unidentified female: do you want a toaster?
COURTNEY FOX: yes, we need toasters.
Unidentified female: let’s pick a microwave.
PEACHER: she lives in the house with her husband and seven-year-old brooke. It was the only home her daughter knew. Fox looked exhausted.
PEACHER: the rest of her fortune is ash, and surprisingly, her daughter’s swing. When she thought of her flat home, she was most worried about her daughter’s room.
Fox: I saw the spring on her bed there – where her room might be the hardest thing.
Boche: brooke lost most of his toys in the fire. At the evacuation center, she found a child stuffed with donations – stuffed toys, toys, books.
Brooke: I understand that completely.
PEACHER: she pulled out a book called Splat The Cat Take The Cake.
Brooke: all my books were burned down, so I got other books.
PEACHER: Brooke’s mom Courtney Fox was grateful for the books. And she doesn’t know when or when to rebuild, or what the next few months will look like. But there is at least one thing that can be done right now, because of her family – bedtime story program.