Ashland to Be the Center of Wildfire Resilience Research After a $750,000 Grant

Wildfire Resilience Research starts After a $750,000 Grant to the Oregon State University, All the While Modular Housing is Being Rebuilt for Survivors

Ashland is a community that still feels the effects of the 2020 Almeda wildfire. While it’s a devastating event that everyone still remembers, some good is coming from it.

Oregon State University researchers are receiving $750,000 in grants to launch a collaborative wildfire resilience research study. The research will be done in Ashland, where one of the most recent wildfires occurred. A team of researchers and a doctoral student will be using coving engineering and forestry in order to understand just how wildfires interact with the built environment. The hope is that they will be better able to prepare in the case of an eventual wildfire.

Another issue they hope to tackle is identifying key areas to place fire trucks, understanding what homes and infrastructure will be most at risk, and being able to model escape routes and, eventually, economic recovery in the aftermath.

Given it’s a collaborative effort, the University of Washington, the United Kingdom, and Australia are all on board as well. The international angle is because of the importance of understanding how different communities approach risks of wildfires, as well as the societal implications in the event of a wildfire.

Ashland will be the center of this important research, so hopefully great things will be gleaned from their time within the town.

Useful: Oregon Wildfire Map.


3 Years After the Almeda Fires

Almeda Fires
Phoenix, Oregon, USA. 12th Sep, 2020. The Samuel Lane Loop neighborhood in Phoenix Oregon was completely devestated by the Almeda fire.

On September 8th of 2020, the Almeda and South Obenchain fires were started, and they quickly ravaged south Oregon. Thousands of homes were destroyed in the fires, including over 1,000 mobile homes.

The Almeda fire itself was one of the most destructive wildfires in Oregon’s recorded history. Phoenix and Talent were all but ravaged, with survivors still living with the trauma of that devastating event. Some of those who lost their homes still have yet to find permanent housing.

Then there’s the loss of financial security, along with a severe impact on the mental health of all those that were impacted.

These are the consequences that people are fighting to never have to experience again, and while there will always inevitably be another wildfire, there are steps that one can take in order to avoid the brunt of the impact.

In the case that you still feel the rough impact of the wildfires, including the Almeda wildfires, there are groups that can help.

The Jackson County Long-Term Recovery Group is one such little organization. It’s more than just a group where you can find others like you, but also an organization that helps with disaster case management, housing recovery, and emotional and spiritual care.

However, while there are spots of good news here and there, some aren’t quite as hopeful.

You may remember that earlier this summer there was going to be modular housing built in Phoenix for the survivors of the Almeda Fire. They have now been deemed uninhabitable, and therefore need to be rebuilt.


Defective Modular Homes to Be Rebuilt for Almeda Fire Survivors

Modular homes
Modular homes – Concept

Imagine losing your home to one of the worst fires in Oregon’s recorded history, being promised that you would be getting permanent modular housing in Phoenix, only to find out that the houses built are uninhabitable and have to be rebuilt, thus delaying your promise of permanent housing.

Now, it’s better than having residents move into homes that are uninhabitable, but the delay is certainly disheartening to many. There have been questions among many about just how these homes could be made to be unfit in the first place.

The homes were found to have multiple code violations, as well as leaking water, making them non-viable for living right off the bat. Instead of replacing the homes, Oregon Housing and Community Services announced that they would be completely rebuilding the homes. Many of the homes were transferred from Idaho, where they had passed inspection, so what happened from then to now can only be answered by the OHCS.

The state housing agency isn’t giving us much information, either. They state that they are committed to rebuilding the defective homes, but not only did they not say when the homes would be rebuilt, but they also haven’t given a date for when survivors would be able to move in. On top of that, they did not say where funding would come from, as rebuilding homes is an extremely costly endeavor. This isn’t a partial rebuild, but a full rebuild, which is not easy. Not to mention, it’s unclear if they’ll be able to recoup the millions lost from the initial buy. They plan on partnering with a new development company from the job, but there’s not much other than that.

Survivors are frustrated after nearly 3 years of waiting, and now without a set timeline, their housing issues have been put into limbo.


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