Fern Ridge Review
Sweet Lorane Community News
July 25, 2019
By Pat Edwards
In early August, 2015, we were in the news… and not in a good way. A fire had broken out along Territorial Road south of Lorane and caught the hillside between the Mitchell and Matchulat properties on fire. The blaze consumed over 180 acres and was finally contained after coming within 75 feet of the Matchulat home.
The containment took the efforts of many from around Lane County, but my column that week, focused on the local heroes who were there to deal with it.
I’d like to share some of that with you today following the news this past week of another similar fire that broke out near Fire Road and was determined to be caused by human negligence. Fortunately, it was contained within a few hours, but again, our community members were ready to evacuate livestock if needed and do whatever it took to keep us safe.
August 14, 2015
“…The fire has been determined to be human-caused and started along the roadway on South Territorial Road just north of the Matchulat home. It quickly spread through dry grass and into a group of trees near the home and began racing up the hill next to the house. Lorane resident, Cherie Lutman, called 911 and then made a call to lifetime Lorane resident, Gary Thompson since she couldn’t rouse the Matchulats. Gary and his wife Lil rushed to the blaze and immediately saw that it was heading towards the Matchulat’s house. Gary turned on hoses and climbed to the roof of the house. He and Lil sprayed down everything as they watched the fire get closer and closer. The Lorane Fire Department volunteers and air support were soon there and they began the work of keeping the fire at bay. With the help of others who had arrived, they went inside and collected as many of the Matchulat’s photos and personal items as they could in case they were not able to save the house. Without the Thompsons’ quick thinking and their concern for their friends and neighbors, that could easily have been the outcome.
“Fortunately, with the barrage of water dumps from the air and fire hoses on the ground, the fire’s force focused on the trees and the dry grass above the house and the immediate danger was over. But, Gary and Lil and others who had arrived, stayed on the scene to make sure that stray embers from the burgeoning fire did not land on the roof.
“In the meantime, crews from the Western Lane division of the Oregon Department of Forestry began trying to contain the fire. They put out a priority alert and other crews began arriving from as far away as McKenzie and Lowell Fire Districts. Helicopters and air tankers continued dumping water and retardants on the fire. Local resident, Bruce McDonald, and others who had cats and heavy equipment began working on a fire line to try and keep the fire from spreading. The next day, more crews arrived. One of them, in five trucks, pulled into our store parking lot to get supplies before heading for the fire. They had been fighting the large Southern Oregon fire near Glide and their clothes still were fragrant with the smell of smoke. But, they knew that they were needed here, so they came.
“We have a lot of heroes to thank… not only Cherie, Gary, Lil, Bruce and all of the local and out-of-area firefighters, but all of the people who were glued to their computers, reading and commenting on breaking news about the fire… the ones sending prayers and thanks to all who were working so hard to save the lives and homes of our residents. I have a special soft-spot in my heart for those who offered help in the form of providing food and drink for the firefighters, making trailers and transportation available for threatened livestock and beds for anyone who became displaced by the fire. All are heroes in my estimation.
“I’m very proud of our community and of all of those who showed their concern. Thank you!”
Please use caution this summer. It is not as hot and dry as it was in 2015, but the fire danger is listed as “moderate” and all activities using gas or spark-emitting equipment are prohibited between the hours of 1:00 and 8:00 p.m. currently.
Remember the fire of 2015. Let’s not allow this to happen again in our community. Be safe everyone!