“They built wide swathes of ground by just plowing, scraping the surface so there is nothing left there to burn,” he said in an interview. “It was seven Caterpillar blades wide, and all above the town. They went to work building these lines for 10 miles.”
Paisley, in the south of Oregon, is a small city of about 220 people. It lies on the edge of the Great Basin, with sagebrush on the east and forest on the west. A small, spring-fed river, Chewaucan, runs through it.
The mayor said that success came after setbacks — at one point, the fire jumped the waterway.
The dry, gusty winds and temperatures in the 80s have not helped, he said.
“So it is not a fun time for firefighters to tackle this stuff,” he said.
More back-burning took place on Tuesday night, and the efforts ultimately worked, sending the flames away and up a ridge, he said.
“It was about eight or nine miles away when it started,” he said. “It is all around us. But as long as it takes the fuel away, it goes away.”
Like other communities threated by the wildfires, the city initiated a level 3 evacuation, meaning, as the mayor put it, one thing only: “Go.”
Some did, loading up camp trailers. Their options were to travel south to Red Cross facilities at a fair ground in Lakeview, but many did not. “People know other people. They went to friends houses and relatives. Kind of spread out,” the mayor said.