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Know the Evacuation Warnings posted on 06/30/2023

Last month’s question to readers drew several responses. “Can you think of a single-use product [in your home] made from materials that are not sustainably harvested?” The answers included a range of plastic products, such as juice and water bottles and their caps, “tin” or aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars and other products.
Although some of these products are recyclable, the materials they’re made from can’t be sustainably mined or produced — the supply of these raw materials is finite and can’t be grown like trees or crops. Even sand, a main ingredient in glass, is in short supply worldwide, according to the United Nations’ Environment Programme, and it is being mined at unsustainable rates.
A forest, if managed sustainably, can provide wood indefinitely, plus all the other values we enjoy from them: clean water, recreation, wildlife, “wild” foods, aesthetic and spiritual values and so on.
The good news is that some companies have come up with creative ways to make single-use plastic and metal products from wood. The maker of Absolut vodka recently announced that it will begin selling vodka in paper bottles. I’ll drink to that! The bottles aren’t 100% paper, however — they have a thin plastic lining. But it’s progress.
Coincidentally, on a recent business trip to Vancouver, B.C., I bought a package of bagels. The plastic bag was held closed not by one of those small plastic clips, but a clip made from recycled cardboard. More progress!
Factoid and more good news: Kwik Lok Corp., the main producer of plastic bag clips in the US, sells billions of clips per year. And they now also offer paper clips.
Wildfire Mitigation Fair
In the April column, I mentioned the Highway 26 Corridor Wildfire Mitigation Fair, a May 13 event organized by the Mt. Hood Corridor Wildfire Partnership, a group of federal, state and county agencies along with Hoodland Fire, Portland General Electric, ski areas, community planning organizations, and homeowner associations and others.
David Thurman, who lives in the Alder Creek area, attended the fair. Thurman, a civil engineer by training, works for his parents, Bob and Margaret Thurman, owners of Welches Mountain Properties.
“I think wildfire is a threat to everyone, whether you live in a city or outside the city, and especially up here on the mountain, where we’re surrounded by trees. Welches Mountain Properties operates locally within the area, so we’re definitely concerned about wildfire,” he said.
At the fair, Thurman heard about Portland General Electric’s use of remote cameras and AI technology to detect wildfires.
“They showed a demo of how these cameras can zoom in really close to a property where they detect smoke. They have one camera near Brightwood and another one proposed near Timberline,” Thurman said.
According to PGE’s 2023 Wildfire Mitigation Plan, “PGE continues to expand its situational awareness capabilities, including measures such as installing new remote automated weather stations and artificial intelligence-enhanced ultrahigh-definition cameras (Pano AI cameras) to automatically notify PGE and its Public Safety Partners when they detect a fire, in real time. PGE will continue to invest in mitigations to reduce wildfire risk throughout our system.”
As of 2022, PGE had deployed 22 Pano AI cameras across 10 High Fire Risk Zones (HFRZs) — the Highway 26 Corridor between Sandy and Government Camp is one of them — and plans to install an additional 15 cameras in 2023.
Prepare for Wildfire
Regular readers of this column know that I’ve written about how to create a defensible space around your home or business. A defensible space not only helps protect your home during a wildfire, it also gives firefighters a better chance of saving your house or building.
Back in the May 2020 edition, I urged you to start by performing regular cleaning and maintenance on the house itself, especially when dry weather is in the offing. For example, clean debris from gutters, roof valleys, behind chimneys and along walls. This spring I filled a five-gallon bucket with fir needles and other debris from just 15 feet of gutter. Imaging an ember falling on this fuel when dry. This is just one of the steps you can take. Do it now — when a wildfire approaches, it’s too late.
Websites such as the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise.org offer a wealth of information on preparing your house and property for wildfire. Hoodland Fire District also has information and a helpful video on creating a defensible space around your home: hoodlandfire.us.
Ready, Set, Go!
Even with the best mitigation plan and home-protection measures, wildfires are still a threat. Knowing what to do if a wildfire is in our area is crucial. You may recall that in 2020 there were Level 1 (Be Ready) and Level 2 (Be Set) evacuation alerts in our area, and Level 3 (Go Now!) in the Estacada area as the Riverside Fire approached.
The graphic accompanying this article, from the Oregon Dept. of Emergency Management, summarizes the three levels. See wildfire.oregon.gov for more details and information on developing an emergency plan, an evacuation checklist, and a family communication plan that designates an out-of-area contact, a family meeting place outside of the hazard area and how you’ll contact each other if you are separated during an emergency. Assembling a “go bag” or “go kit” with essential supplies for your health, safety and identification is an important step.
Years ago at Mt. Hood Community College, I showed my wildland fire students a video taken as a wildfire approached a home in southern Oregon. The homeowners had created a defensible space and had large water tanks, pumps and hoses for battling the flames, but they didn’t have a go bag, emergency plan or an evacuation checklist. As the fire drew near, the video shows a woman running through the house in a panic, grabbing things she wanted to save — family photos, an antique chair — while a firefighter urges everyone to evacuate immediately. “GET OUT! GO NOW!” he yelled. It was a close call. The family survived, but the house and its contents did not.
Assemble your go bag. Write your emergency plan and evacuation checklist. Do it now, before it’s too late.
Have a burning question about wildfire? Have a paper bag clip life hack? Let me know. Email me at SWilent@gmail.com.




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