UTAH

Utah Task Force 1 returns from Oregon fires: “they lost everything”

Sep 22, 2020, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:09 pm
Utah Task Force 1 Oregon...
Derek Petersen | KSLTV

SALT LAKE CITY— Utah Task Force 1 went to Oregon prepared for the worst. They found it in terms of pure destruction, however, the people of Oregon are in good spirits. 

Utah Task Force 1 returned home Sunday night from Jackson County, Oregon.  They were tasked with “wide area searches” of the hard-hit areas including the cities of Medford, Talent, and Ashland.  Leader Wade Russell says that means “primary searches, structural assessments,” and grimly, “looking for remains.”

PROFOUND DEVASTATION

On KSL Newsradio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry, Russell says the found devastation was “so profound, that it was like being on another planet.  I’ve never seen [anything] like it.” On their way there, Russell says the team was informed that 200 to 300 people were missing.  Thankfully, however, they found no remains in the rubble.  Russell says the evacuations in the areas they were searching were well-handled and everyone was able to get out of their homes. 

UTTF-1’s job is doing this kind of work after hurricanes and structural collapses. Russell says what they are not used to is engaging with people returning to their homes, surveying the damage, while they’re doing their job. He says they were gracious and thankful.

A WARM WELCOME, DESPITE NO WELCOME MAT

Russell says his team knows that people go through stages of grief.  They were prepared for people to “not want them to be there. They lost absolutely everything, and we felt we were the ones being taken care of by them.  [More] than us taking care of them.” 

Russell says they had quite a few really positive interactions. 

One, in particular, is a Senior Community.  Russell recalls to Lee, “[One of our crews] encountered an elderly man, sifting through the rubble of his own house.  He was distraught.”  After giving him some water, he told the men that his wife died two years ago.  “He didn’t care that he had lost everything, but he couldn’t find his wife’s ashes.  The crew dropped everything and looked for about an hour until they found the urn.” 

Russell says one of the crew told him this morning that they’ve been in contact with the man every day since.  “I think they are going to have a relationship with him going forward.  [It’s] a really, really neat thing.”

In general, Russell feels the people they met gave them a lot of comfort and reassurance.  He thinks that this was “kind of a closure thing for us.  A real positive note.”

Russell says his team of 80 all returned healthily.  “And [we’re] ready to help when we’re needed again.”

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Top Stories

Utah

Photo credit: Summit Academy High School Facebook page...
Lindsay Aerts

Summit Academy High School locked down after series of unrelated events

Summit Academy High School was put on lockdown Tuesday afternoon.
18 hours ago
UVU won three Independent Publisher Book Awards...
Waverly Golden

Utah Valley University awarded three Independent Publisher Book Awards

Utah Valley University created two books named J’Adore and Grimm Gestalt. Both won awards through the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
18 hours ago
Almost half a million dollars of drugs seized....
Waverly Golden

More than $430K in drugs found stuffed in car speaker in St. George

Washington City Police seized almost half a million dollars in drugs from a man driving through St George. The drugs were packed into a speaker box.
18 hours ago
Woman scams people out of $50,000 in tax returns....
Aimee Cobabe and Waverly Golden

Kaysville woman scams friends and family of tax refunds

A woman in Kaysville scammed 13 people and claimed a portion of their tax refunds. She is currently in jail facing multiple charges.
18 hours ago
A semi hauling sand Monday evening rolled on US-40 near Vernal, blocking all lanes of traffic. The ...
Mark Jones

Semi rollover near Vernal blocks all lanes of US-40

A semi hauling sand rolled on US-40 Monday evening near Vernal, blocking all lanes of traffic. The driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
2 days ago
apology act of kindness...
Mark Jones

Utah County Search and Rescue team help teenager off Battle Creek trail

A 16-year-old girl fell about 20 feet up Battle Creek trail, suffering a head injury. The Utah County Search and Rescue team had her off the mountain by 7:30 p.m.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Utah Task Force 1 returns from Oregon fires: “they lost everything”