While Clackamas Countians owe a huge debt of gratitude to many fire agencies and first responders who have served throughout the wildfire crisis, there are few that have been as directly impacted as the Molalla and Colton fire protection districts.
For a week straight, one of the largest and most destructive wildfires in the history of the state has been on their doorsteps.
They have answered the call, without delay or distraction, battling rough terrain, wind, high temperatures and dense smoke as they fought to protect their communities, their neighbors and even their own homes.
Below, a scene that was not uncommon at Molalla Fire District over the past week:
After five straight days on the front lines, Molalla Fire this weekend transitioned back to “normal” operations, responding to emergency calls throughout its 350-square-mile ambulance district, while still working multiple brush engines and water tenders out fighting the Clackamas wildfires as part of task forces from around the west coast.
“Now that we have assistance from local, state and federal teams working on these fires, this allows us to take a step back and provide emergency services to our residents,” Molalla Fire said in a Facebook post Monday that shed light on its extraordinary week. “The outside resources coming to help allow us to provide YOU with emergency service.”
Colton Fire, whose community remains fully on level 3 (“Go Now”) evacuation syatus (parts of Molalla were reduced to level 2 Sunday night), gave a similar update, saying the Colton station was being staffed 24 hours a day, with firefighters reponding to calls for service while also assisting the conflag crews.
Both districts seem to be settling in for the long haul — with 107 miles of active perimeter, containing the Riverside Fire will be “a marathon, not a sprint,” Colton officials said.
“We still have a job to do, and that is protecting our citizens day and night,” said the Molalla Fire District. “This is what we do.”