State firefighters are continuing to make progress on wildfires that ravaged the state of Oregon this month—and the forecast of rain in the next few days should help quell the fires more.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Kate Brown told reporters that three of the 10 major fires spread throughout the state have now calmed enough that the local fire districts are taking control from state authorities in fighting them. The other seven fires are contained between 13 and 38 percent, and Brown said she has “a lot of confidence that we’ve turned the corner.”
As of Wednesday, there are nine confirmed deaths associated with the wildfires, and five people who are missing or unaccounted for. Brown said that “the loss of life has been much less than was expected” for the fires, and credited Oregon’s fire teams with doing “exactly what needed to be done,” despite being “understaffed and under-resourced.”
Doug Grafe, chief of fire prevention with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said that heavy rain over the next three days should further improve conditions, especially in the western part of the state.
“Really good conditions are coming our way, relative to rain, over the next 72 hours,” Grafe said. “Specifically west of the Cascades, it looks like most of the rain will be falling there. And that’s really where we need it.”
But the fires likely won’t be completely extinguished until heavy rain starts falling consistently—probably in mid-October, Grafe said.
Because the wildfires prompted Brown to request a federal state of emergency, aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is available for Oregonians affected by wildfires. So far, over 4,200 Oregonians have applied for the funding, and about $7 million has been given out so far.
Some people have reportedly been denied aid from FEMA, despite appearing to meet qualifications for it. Oregon Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps urged those people to appeal their denials.
“Very often folks are deemed ineligible because they miss a signature someplace or had an incorrect date,” Phelps said. “It’s critical that Oregonians continue to follow the process and receive every bit of federal assistance that’s available.”