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FireWatch: Almeda Fire survivor considers moving away from southern Oregon after loss from two wildfires

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FireWatch: Almeda Fire survivor considers moving away from southern Oregon after loss from two wildfires

TALENT, Ore. -- On September 8, 2020, the Almeda Fire swept through residential communities burning down homes and businesses that had stood there for many years.

Among the homes that burned down was that of Ruby Reid and her fiance, Chris. Ruby and Chris moved to Talent in 2015 after meeting while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Reid tells Newswatch 12 she remembers multiple fires from 2015 alone. The fire at Warm Springs Reservation in central Oregon burned more than 1,000 homes, and this one was prominent in her memory as she remembered skipping over burned areas while on the hiking trail.

Reid says fires that year caused issues on the trail from southern California to the Washington/Canada border. She recalls checking for fire information and avoiding burned areas constantly throughout that hiking trip. Much of the smoke in the air during her time spent on the trail brought on breathing problems for Reid.

Although Reid was aware of fire dangers between northern California and southern Oregon, she did not expect to experience another major fire after Almeda.

"We lost our home and our little car and all of our products and inventory for our business, and all of the tools from the business. I was lucky enough to get out with my three cats and my life," Reid said.

Months later, in June 2021, Reid lost the beekeeping portion of her business, Valhalla Organics, to the Cutoff Fire in Klamath County.

Though she's been able to keep her head up and spirits high, she worries about the possibility of another devastating fire in southern Oregon.

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't rehearse scenarios of what we would do if, God forbid, it were to come to our new place in Klamath," Reid said.

She and her husband are now considering moving to Virginia, since it rains there in the summer.

Many people across the Rogue Valley have lived through close calls from wildfires. Josephine County's District Chief for Rural Metro Fire, Austin Prince, has worked 33 years putting out fires and protecting communities. He says at this point in his career and serving the community for this many years, he has never considered moving.

Prince tells Newswatch 12 by the end of his career, he wants to look back on those years knowing he served his community in the best way he knew how.

Experiencing multiple fires could take a toll on anyone, but both Prince and Reid walk away with major lessons from their experiences.

Prince said the Almeda Fire was a reminder to southern Oregonians that they aren't immune to devastating wildfire damage.

"Our anniversary of this particular event [the Almeda Fire] reminds us once again, that we could have it happen again."

Reid enters the anniversary of the Almeda Fire saying, "We've just learned that difficult things happen in life where we just kind of have to roll with the punches and move on as best we can."

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