Oregon lawmaker escapes McKinney Fire while on camping trip

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:56 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV)- The McKinney Fire may be burning at the Oregon-California border, but it is already hitting close to home in the Portland area.

The Oregon State Fire Marshall has sent firefighters from Marion, Linn, and Clackamas counties to help, which includes over 40 firefighters and 12 engines.

Rep. Dacia Grayber (D-Tigard) says she was camping along the Siskiyou Ridge southwest of Mount Ashland on Friday night, which is when the blaze broke out.

“We went to bed and were woken up by gale-force winds and a glow through the trees, and both being experienced firefighters we went ‘This is not good!’” said Grayber.

Grayber and her husband are veteran firefighters for Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, and even they were shocked at the speed of the McKinney Fire. Grayber says she and her husband packed up and moved their camp to the Mount Ashland Ski Resort, and were helping Pacific Crest Trail hikers who were also evacuating the fire.

“Between the two of us, we have over 50 years of fire experience including wildland fire experience, and both of us have never seen conditions like that at night before,” said Grayber.

Grayber says from her firefighting experience she knows that intense flames and large plumes of smoke usually happen during the day during hot and dry and conditions. She says the McKinney fire is an exception.

“It’s not unusual to see those large pyrocumulonimbus clouds grow from the fire during the day,” she said. “To have one like that at night is really extraordinary and dangerous.”