Officials have yet to identify the cause of the 170,000-acre Holiday Farm fire that ripped down the McKenzie River valley starting Labor Day. (1/9)
But residents told @Oregonian that the blaze was preceded by a power outage, a loud explosion and a shower of blue sparks from an electric line near milepost 47 on Oregon 126 – the exact location where state officials have pinpointed the start of the fire. (2/9)
Kris Brandt, like many who lived among the area’s Douglas fir forests, could hear the towering trees snapping all around him as roaring winds raced downriver for hours. (3/9)
His home on Caddis Lane in the community of Blue River suddenly lost electricity about 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 7, he said. Then came the sound of a violent blast — far different than any tree falling. (4/9)
“I would have guessed it was a transformer exploding but I can’t confirm,” he said, later adding that he thinks power should have been cut earlier because of high winds and dry conditions. (5/9)
After alerting neighbors and spotting fire crews descending upon the area, he went to the end of his street and began filming. (6/9)
The video, shot at 8:58 p.m. and reviewed by @Oregonian, is among the first to capture the growing blaze that’s since leveled hundreds of homes and left at least one person dead in its wake. (7/9)
Brandt’s account and proximity to where officials say one of Oregon’s largest wildfires started may provide clues about its cause, which remains under investigation.

Read the full story: (9/9)
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More from @Oregonian

26 Oct
In her weekly letter to readers, our editor @tbottomly discusses news, opinion and how the editorial board works: (1/13)
@tbottomly One of the most persistent complaints I receive is that we are biased. (2/13)
People can see bias in word choice or the framing of issues. Readers might also see bias in photo choices, story placement or whether a subject receives news coverage or not. (3/13)
Read 14 tweets
16 Oct
Voting is easier in Oregon than any other state in the nation, according to the latest analysis by a team of political scientists tracking the issue. (1/7)
“Oregon, which has one of the most progressive automatic voter registration processes and mail-in voting, maintains the first position as the easiest state in which to vote,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their findings. (2/7)
The other top states for ease of voting are Washington, Utah, Illinois and Maryland. Oregon, Utah and Washington all have permanent vote-by-mail processes. (3/7)
Read 8 tweets
22 Sep
At least six men across Oregon have been accused of intentionally setting blazes during a disastrous wildfire season that has burned more than a million acres, killed at least nine people and annihilated homes, entire towns and beloved natural areas. (1/7)
None of them have ties to left- or right-wing groups or appear to have been motivated by politics, according to police and court records reviewed by @Oregonian. (2/7)
Only one of the accused fire starters, a southern Oregon man with a history of meth use, is accused of damaging more than a dozen homes and endangering people’s lives. Prosecutors say another man in Lane County caused hundreds of acres to burn near a sleepy timber town. (3/7)
Read 8 tweets
21 Sep
After eight years of fighting wildfires, Solize Ortiz has learned to work with the challenges and dangers of her profession. The Oregon firefighter has been in smoke so thick it’s nearly impossible to breathe, and at times she’s unable to make out the faces of others. (1/14)
“Sometimes you can only see silhouettes,” Ortiz said. “You start to recognize how people walk and their mannerisms. That’s usually the best way to identify people on your crew.” (2/14)
She’s learned to gauge danger -- like when a flaming tree is about to crash to the ground, and in which direction. (3/14)
Read 15 tweets
18 Sep
Henry Kirim had ducked out of his Southeast Portland apartment to search his car for a missing bank card when a strange man rushed into his ground-floor unit, closed the door and locked it. (1/13)
Kirim’s 12-year-old son remained inside. (2/13)
Kirim fumbled for his house key, thankful he had it on the same ring as his car key, and raced to open his apartment door.

“I was so scared,” he said. (3/13)
Read 14 tweets
14 Sep
Fire raced up the hill Wednesday night, gaining momentum toward Blair Road in Scotts Mills, as several dozen men worked on building a fire line. (1/11) Image
“We probably had 20 to 30 people in there hand-falling timber,” said Mike Craig, who was operating an excavator at the time. “We were just ripping everything out of the ground and pushing it into the fire to make it contained.” (2/11)
Craig watched as flames licked the blade of a bulldozer that plowed toward the fire, the man in the cab silhouetted by the blaze. He snapped a photo with his phone, capturing a dramatic moment in the fight against the Beachie Creek fire. (3/11)
Read 12 tweets

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