ALL NEWS

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

FILE -- This Nov. 15, 2020 photo shows a long row of unsold used Highlander sports-utility vehicles...
Britt Johnson

Used car prices dropping but supply still low

The prices of used cars are starting to fall in Utah, however, dealers are seeing a very low supply of used cars.
13 hours ago
A group of students at the Jean Massieu School of the Deaf is making blankets for pet dogs and cats...
Allie Litzinger

Students making pet blankets to donate to the Humane Society of Utah

The Kindness Club at Jean Massieu School of the Deaf is making blankets for pet dogs and cats at the Humane Society of Utah.
13 hours ago
Drivers are being asked to avoid the area of 1200 West and 600 North after a fatal auto-pedestrian ...
Simone Siekaly and Adam Small

Police investigating fatal auto-pedestrian crash in Salt Lake City

Drivers are being asked to avoid the area of 1200 West and 600 North after a fatal auto-pedestrian accident.
13 hours ago
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., departs after attending a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill ...
Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona, CNN

George Santos tells House Republicans he wants off of his committees until issues are resolved

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told CNN that it was Santos' decision that he made on his own to "abstain" from the committees.
13 hours ago
The Central City Recreation Center at 615 South 300 East in Salt Lake City will be used as an emerg...
Simone Seikaly

Citing ‘dangerously low’ overnight temps, county opens emergency shelter

Volunteers are among the county and city workers helping provide emergency shelter for the homeless at the Central City Recreation Center.
13 hours ago
Police are investigating a double homicide that happened in Taylorsville overnight. According to Sg...
Amie Schaeffer

Suspect still at large after double homicide in Taylorsville

Two males were found dead in a car at the Atherton Apartments in Taylorsville on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2023. The homicide suspect fled the scene.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Utah Task Force 1 returns from Oregon fires: “they lost everything”