Wyden visits cooling center with wildfires on mind

Oregon

Oregon senator stopped by the Oregon Convention Center

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the heat wave starting to wilt the Rose City, people are now taking advantage of the 24-hour cooling centers that opened in Multnomah County on Friday.

Sen. Ron Wyden stopped by the Oregon Convention Center on Saturday afternoon to thank the volunteers helping to keep people and their pets cool.

“They are just wonderful to be here and assist and help folks who are here, many of whom have houses,” Wyden told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just those houses don’t have air conditioning.”

Pets are welcome at the Oregon Convention Center cooling shelter, June 26, 2021 (Multnomah County)

Volunteers provided water and other refreshments to the people at the cooling center. Wyden said the record-setting heat makes it especially challenging for the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

“It just becomes very hard for them, particularly if they are older or have breathing challenges,” he said.

Wyden also noted dangerous fire conditions can accompany heat like this. He said he’s been working with the Biden Administration and Forest Service to tackle a potentially dangerous fire season.

“Historically we would have one big fire in the west, say Oregon, and the other states like California and Idaho would pitch in and help us,” he said. “This year the fire situation is so hot or dry, I’ve been telling the Biden Administration I think there is a very real threat this year of having multiple big fires simultaneously.”

KOIN Coverage: Wildfires

The Biden Administration should be announcing plans to deal with the threat soon, focusing on personnel and equipment, he said. He’s also pushing for more prescribed burns during the colder months and a measure that would put people to work clearing built-up fuels — “my 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, which would put thousands of young people to work in the woods.”

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