Oregon wildfire crews robbed of equipment while sleeping

Firefighters preparing to battle the Chetco Bar wildfire on the coast of Oregon were robbed of thousands of dollars of equipment while they slept early Saturday morning.

Fire crews drove more than 230 miles to Brookings from Lane County Friday night and parked at the Brookings-Harbor High School to rest ahead of the 5:30 a.m. fire briefing the next morning, according to The Register-Guard. When they awoke at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday, they discovered thieves had ransacked two of their trucks, stealing an oxygen tank, a firefighter’s bag, a flat-headed axe and a firefighter jacket.

Chad Minter, chief of the Lane County Fire Defense Board, said the equipment was worth thousands of dollars. He said no arrests have been made in the case.

Despite the missing equipment, crews were able to deploy to the fire line quickly after filing a police report, Minter said.

Lane Fire Authority Chief Terry Ney said the state is experiencing an unusually difficult fire season.

“This is the worst season Oregon has experienced for wildland fires in anybody’s memory, and it’s not over yet,” Ney said. “Please, don’t even consider having a fire, or using any sort of engine powered tool or machine out of doors.”

The Chetco Bar Fire has ravaged more than 176,000 acres in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, according to the incident information site. The fire, which was first reported in July, was only 5 percent contained as of Wednesday. Officials expect don’t expect to have it fully contained until mid-October.