Almeda fire survivor plans to move away from southern Oregon after loss of two wildfires
TALENT, Oregon – On September 8, 2020, the Almeda Fire swept through residential communities, burning down homes and businesses that had been there for many years.
Among the houses that burned down was that of Ruby Reid and her fiance, Chris. Ruby and Chris moved to Talent in 2015 after meeting while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Reid tells Newswatch 12 that she remembers several fires in 2015 alone. The Warm Springs Reservation fire in central Oregon burned more than 1,000 homes, and this one was important in her memory as she remembered jumping over scorched areas on the hiking trail.
Reid says the fires that year caused problems on the trail from Southern California to the Washington-Canada border. She remembers checking the fire information and constantly avoiding scorched areas throughout this hike. Much of the smoke in the air during his time on the trail caused problems breathing for Reid.
Although Reid was aware of the fire dangers between northern California and southern Oregon, she did not expect to suffer another major fire after Almeda.
“We lost our house and our toy car and all of our products and inventory for our business, and all of the business tools. I was lucky enough to hang out with my three cats and my life,” Reid said.
Months later, in June 2021, Reid lost the beekeeping part of his business, Valhalla Organics, to the Cutoff Fire in Klamath County.
While she has been able to keep her head up and morale high, she is worried about the possibility of another devastating fire in southern Oregon.
“Not a day goes by without rehearsing scenarios of what we would do if, God forbid, it came to our new place in Klamath,” said Reid.
She and her husband are now considering moving to Virginia as it rains there in the summer.
Many people across Rogue Valley have experienced close calls of wildfires. Austin Prince, Josephine County District Manager for Rural Fires, has worked 33 years to put out fires and protect communities. He says that at this point in his career and serving the community for many years, he never considered moving.
Prince tells Newswatch 12 that at the end of his career, he wants to look back on those years knowing that he served his community in the best way he knew.
Experiencing multiple fires could take its toll on anyone, but Prince and Reid walk away with important lessons from their experiences.
Prince said the Almeda fire was a reminder to residents of southern Oregon that they are not immune to the devastating damage of wildfires.
“Our anniversary of this particular event [the Almeda Fire] reminds us once again that this could happen again. “
Reid walks into the anniversary of the Almeda fire saying, “We just heard that hard things happen in life where we kind of have to roll with the punches and move on as best we can. . “