Preparing for Wildfire

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - Even with the shift in weather, cooler temperatures, and the first rainfall of the season, wildfires are still burning across Lane County, and it is critical for residents to ensure their families and homes are as safe as possible.

According to the Lane County website update of August 31st, the Grizzly fire in the Umpqua National Forest, 20 miles southeast of Dorena, is increasing in intensity and prompted a Level 2 evacuation notice. Level 2 means residents must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice, and it may be the only notice they receive.

Lane Electric Cooperative offers a variety of ways to help the community prepare and be forewarned. Lane Electric Manager & Member Public Relations, April Matson, recommends signing up for the National Weather Alert System notifications to keep informed about what steps to take when wildfire risk is high.

Matson also urges residents to update their contact information with Lane Electric in case the company needs to notify them of any Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). To help the community be better prepared, they are offering a free safety checklist. All of these services can be accessed on the Wildfire Preparedness page of the Lane Electric Cooperative website at

Matson stressed a PSPS only happens as a last resort in response to a red flag warning situation. This would mean the National Weather Service has declared low humidity, high wind, and severe high heat are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. If this occurred, Lane Electric would send out an email alert or a phone alert with as much advance notice as possible.

Other safety measures include escalating line and system settings when fire conditions worsen. Lane Electric deploys service members in areas of active fires so they can respond quickly to any outages or firefighter needs. The co-op also began moving lines underground, burying them to protect from wind, wildfires, and weather.

Walt Bernard, president of Row River Fire Response, focused on the importance of creating a defensible space around every home and other measures to make homes more secure against fire.

Lane County’s Firewise Grant Incentive Program provides rural property owners with funding to help complete projects that reduce the risk of wildfire, such as clearing vegetation, replacing wood shake roofing, fire-resistant landscaping materials, noncombustible exterior siding, chimney spark arrestors, and more. Up to $15,500 in grant funding is available for each qualifying property. 

Lane County’s Firewise Grant Incentive Program is accepting applications from residents in unincorporated Lane County through September 29, 2023. Residents can apply online at

Lane Electric Cooperative recently awarded the Row River Fire Response a $20,000 grant to support community fire resiliency efforts, and Bernard is enthusiastic about their support and working together to keep their residents safe. In response to all the assistance the district is receiving, board member, Kathleen Istudor, said, “We appreciate the mentorship and assistance from Lane Electric, South Lane Fire & Rescue, Lane County, and many neighboring fire departments.”

The district also recently received a $250,000 grant from Oregon State Fire Marshal that goes toward reducing fire fuels around Row River Valley homes. The grant also supports fire prevention training and education for the entire community.

These funds have allowed them to launch the Row River Community Wildfire Risk Reduction Initiative. The money will be used over 3 years toward creating defensible space for area homeowners with a priority for residents with mobility issues and the elderly, and homes that have a heavy build-up of fire fuels close to the home. Area residents can contact Row River Fire Response to ask about the program at

Over the next three years, they will provide adult classes in fire safety and a youth-educational program to teach children as young as 5 years old. Istudor, who also chairs the grant, told us local children can earn the Row River Raccoon Junior Fire Reserve badge with the hope the course will inspire them to keep fire safety throughout their lives.

Returning to the subject of home defense, Kathleen said, “Think of it like buckling up in your car. Defensible space is the safeguard that protects your home when the unexpected strikes. Fire alarms and extinguishers are critical, as is a good working water hose. However, clearing fire fuel around a home stands as the homeowner's most effective defense in safeguarding their property.”

Row River Fire Response is working with Lane Electric Cooperative, county emergency response, and local legislators on a model for community fire preparedness that could be utilized in other isolated rural areas.