A group of Canby firefighters is in line to receive the Distinguished Conduct Award from the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association next week in recognition of their extraordinary courage and service during the historic Labor Day wildfires that ravaged Clackamas County in September 2020.
Ten Canby firefighters have been selected to receive this honor for their efforts on Sept. 7 and 8, 2020, in combatting the massive blaze that broke out on Unger Road in Colton.
Canby crews were dispatched to the area at approximately 10:30 Sept. 7 to assist the Colton volunteers. Most of the Canby personnel had already spent hours fighting large wildfires in the Molalla area earlier that night.
Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis was on the scene and serving as incident commander for Canby. He reported that the blaze on Unger Road was burning through approximately one acre of heavy brush and vegetation, and that it had gone vertical — with fire overhead, in the canopy of the trees.
“The fire was along Unger Road, blowing toward Bauer Road and numerous houses,” Davis recalled. “All units were ordered to evacuate numerous residences along Bauer Road as the fire blew right at the homes.”
Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English arrived with additional units from Colton Fire to aid the evacuation. Within the first hour of response, crews managed to evacuate more than 30 homes and helped get everyone to safe locations with no injuries or deaths.
Davis set up incident command on Unger Road and requested “as many units as possible” to assist, up to a five-alarm statewide mobilization and air support. But, due to the historic wildfires breaking out all over the state, there was no help available.
The firefighters grappled with heavy fire conditions, falling trees and downed power lines, assuming enormous risk to themselves while saving lives and protecting property. The crews were on for more than 24 hours without rest until replacements were available late on the afternoon of Sept. 8, Davis said.
Unger Road would eventually become part of the Riverside Complex Fire, which ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres in Clackamas County.
Davis, as incident commander, personally submitted the names of the nine firefighters for consideration of the meritorious award: English, Firegound Leader Duane Stoner, Captain Andrew Aamodt, firefighters Jack Starrett and James Patterson, firefighter/paramedic Derrick Clark and volunteer firefighters Brooke Davis, Ethan Dawson-Hurley and Kyler Boyd.
Chief Davis himself is also in line to be honored for his service on Unger Road, making the total number of awards a round 10.
“As chief, I can not thank all of you for your efforts that night on initial attack,” Davis said in a letter to the crew, which was shared with The Canby Current. “You all contributed to saving numerous structures and evacuated numerous houses.”
The firefighters will receive their awards during the Canby Fire Board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. Due to the Covid-19 protocols, attendance is virtual-only: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86923965328
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