© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wildfire evacuations are an unwelcome replay for some

A couple stands next to an RV.
Karen Richards
James and Cheryl Shirley's children received notifications on their phones that were inconsistent with what James and Cheryl heard from neighbors and from a community website. When a friend said that their house in McKenzie Bridge was at Level 3 (Go Now) evacuation, they left.

Level three evacuationsremain in place for some areas near the Lookout and Bedrock Fires. For some evacuees, this is not the first time they’ve had to grab their bags and go.

James and Cheryl Shirley lost their home in Blue River in the Holiday Farm Fire. They lived in an RV until October of last year, when they moved into a home in McKenzie Bridge.

Sunday night just before midnight, evacuation notifications came in for the Lookout Fire. The family of five, with their five pets, loaded up the RV and headed to Lowell High School, where’s there’s a Red Cross shelter. James and Cheryl had some advice: "Always make sure you know where your important documents are so all’s you have to do is grab and go," said Cheryl, and James added. "medications too." Cheryl said, "Don’t wait until the last minute. Because we thought we had time, and we clearly didn’t and this is twice. So we didn’t learn our lesson the first time." James clarified, "Well we thought we did. We just didn’t get everything ready like we wanted to. Should have.”

The Shirley’s said they’ll stay in the RV outside of Lowell High School until it’s safe to return home.

A woman sits at a desk with paperwork and coffee.
Karen Richards
KLCC news
American Red Cross volunteer Elaine Senosk

The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Lowell High School for wildfire evacuees. Elaine Senosk has been with the Red Cross for over two years. She was contacted Sunday evening when the local chapter asked for volunteers.

As of Monday morning, the high school was fairly quiet, but Senosk said that could change. “Depending on the evacuation levels and what happens today with the weather, we have no idea how many may check in," she told KLCC, "but we do have plenty of room and we welcome everybody who needs shelter and a safe place to stay.”

Senosk said she delivered meals after the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire. Because of COVID, the Red Cross didn’t set up shelters then, but sent volunteers to people who were housed in hotels.

The Lowell High School gym is set up with cots, and volunteers are ready with food, showers, and other assistance. Senosk said the agency is prepared to staff up if needed.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
Related Content