CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – Chuck Miller works his way out from the source of the fire. Through gleaming spectacles, he views everything it consumed in its path – inch by inch.
“As fire hits an object, it’ll damage it more on one side than another,” said Miller. “You work your way down to the smaller fuels where you’re down to your hands and knees looking at that damage.”
After ten years retirement, Miller still works when needed. Normally that happens about six times a year. This season has nearly tripled that.
“There have been a lot more man-caused fires this year. That and the fact that there are so many large fires that the resources the state has to do firefighting and firefighting investigation are stretched very thin right now,” said Miller.
This is likely one of those man-made fires, but what kind remains to be seen. The two biggest culprits so far this year have been downright carelessness and aging cars.
“We’re starting to see more catalytic converter caused fires along the roadways, because as those cats get old they’ll break down inside,” said Miller. “And when those chunks come out they’re over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.”
In a hot year like this, a simple mistake can mean a big fire – and even more work for Miller – but with a lot more fire season left, he isn’t making any predictions.
“You can come and ask me on Christmas,” said Miller. “I’ll tell you what the rest of the season was like then.”