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Wildfire Prevention Includes Rebuilding Safer Homes

Resilient Construction

Wildfire Prevention Includes Rebuilding Safer Homes

October 6, 2020
Home being built
Photo: Paul Maguire

How do you prevent wildfires from ravaging more neighborhoods, homes, and lives? The answer may not be found in foliage management, but home building, says the Seattle Times. Safe, equitable housing could save more residents, such as those whose trailer homes were decimated by the fires. Their living situations are much a result of the housing crisis in southwest Oregon. Fire codes are proven to work: California put fire codes into place 12 years ago, and 51% of homes built according to the code survived. Only 18% of homes prior to the fire codes survived.

"Just like COVID, this is shining a bright spotlight on existing inequities. So, this is a moment where we could potentially do something different," said Charlie Bauer, a Southern Oregon Education Service District employee who works with migrant children and has participated in some of the group's meetings.

"I lost everything"

Most of Talent and Phoenix did not burn. But the fire struck hard in downtown corridors of both towns. Those returning to see what's left of their homes found painfully few remains in neighborhoods that looked like they were bombed into oblivion.

Renee Durgin said she spent 32 years scrubbing floors in a nursing home to pay for her 1979 two-bedroom trailer that she found -- on her first return Sept. 18 -- to be reduced to ashes and twisted metal roofing.

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