Man Who Escaped Fire Recounts Story

video preview image

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — It’s been less than a week since smoke filled the sky above I-5 in Grants Pass during the beacon drive incident. One man recounts his escape from the flames.

Wednesday was a more normal day for Home and Business Concierge Watch Officer Jim Cadenhead, the same can’t be said for last Friday when he found himself running from the flames.

“It seemed like an hour and a half, but it was probably no more than about twenty minutes,” recalled Cadenhead.

It all started Friday afternoon when Cadenhead was on patrol at a home high above Grants Pass. He got a call from his office asking for the family’s contact information to make sure they were safe, it was at that time he found out there was a fire growing below him. He waited a few minutes while people below explained his best escape route.

“Then I got a call back saying ‘No the road is no good. You’re not going to be able to get out that way, don’t risk it,’” said Cadenhead. That’s when he took off. “I left the car and grabbed the stuff that I had and shot right down through here.”
The terrain proved to be rough and challenging, but Cadenhead says the adrenaline kept him moving.

“Once I turned and started to go down that, it’s a whole different ball game. It’s torn up, there’s trees that have been cut that are hidden in the grass,” said Cadenhead.

He was heading due east down the hill when he decided to shift south to get to safety as quickly as possible.

“I figured that’s my best bet. My best bet is to get down below this thing as quickly as possible and get out of here,” said Cadenhead.

Once the flames died down and the smoke began to clear, Cadenhead says realized just how fortunate he was.

“I could see the damage, then I realized what a really lucky guy I am. Because I was,” Cadenhead said.

ODF is still looking for anyone with information on how that fire started along I-5. They are asking anyone who was passing mile marker 55 on Friday, between 3:15 p.m. and 3:30 pm., to call 541-471-3883.