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What It's Like To Live Close To A Wildfire


To stay put or to run - it's a question that punctuates the day for Sandy and Halona Jackson in Oregon.

SANDY JACKSON: We are 1.6 miles away from the fire.


That's the Slater Fire, a giant wildfire straddling the Oregon-California border. Fifty-five-year-old Sandy and her daughter, 22-year-old Halona, live on the Oregon side of that border.

KELLY: Together, they operate the Holland Store in the town of Cave Junction. They are ready to run if they have to, but it would mean leaving some others behind.

S JACKSON: The Holland Store is open for the communities to get gas and food so they can evacuate immediately.

PFEIFFER: The store has become a community rallying point. Firefighters are parking their vehicles in its lot, and there's a sandwich board out front where the county posts maps and the latest information about fire conditions.

KELLY: Authorities have issued a level three evacuation notice. That means everyone should go. But Halona says it's complicated.

HALONA JACKSON: You know, it's in a place right now where it doesn't look like it's really going to hurt us because of the winds and what we're looking at. But at the same time, you know, we don't know.

PFEIFFER: They know this fire can turn on them at any moment.

H JACKSON: It was glowing last night, and sure enough, we could see flames trying to pop up over the ridge.

PFEIFFER: The Slater Fire burned into Oregon from northern California and today covers more than 130,000 acres. It's only about 10% contained.

H JACKSON: You know, we've had fire seasons out here, but it's nothing like this. I mean, we were getting really lucky.

KELLY: Sandy Jackson says no one will have to tell them when and if it is time to evacuate.

S JACKSON: It will be our own common sense. Our trailer is packed, and we're ready to go.

KELLY: She says it will take 20 minutes to hit the road. They'll drive to a friend's place outside of the fire zone, and that is when the real wait will begin.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRUCE BRUBAKER'S "OPENING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.