Colton farmer ‘got really lucky,’ saved his farm from inferno


Dave Rhoades, his brother and friends saved his home and barn

COLTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Dave Rhoades didn’t quite know what to expect when he found his property in Colton was in the path of a wildfire. He did know he wasn’t abandoning his land. So with help from his friends and neighbors, he saved his farm from burning.

But he really wants to thank the Oregon City fire chief, who communicated with them throughout. Rhoades said if it weren’t for the chief he wouldn’t have a home today.

A wildfire burns near Dave Rhoades’ farm in Colton. (Courtesy of Jessica Rhoades)

“The fire chief came to us and said it was coming,” said Rhoades, who lives on 41 acres near Colton. “He told me we were at a Level 3 and he said, ‘I can’t force you to leave.’ We didn’t leave.”

He noted the fire department doesn’t have all the people they need. “They were spread out thin the way it was. You think of how many houses out here versus how many firefighters there is.”

While flames were raging, Rhoades, his brother Joe and a couple of friends were working overtime to save his home and barn filled with 50 tons of hay. The men cut fire lines and used some of the loose dirt to put out flames that reached the pasture. Those lines kept flames from reaching the house and barn.

Dave Rhoades wants to thank the Oregon City fire chief whom he credits for helping him save his farm in Colton from a wildfire, Sept. 15, 2020. (KOIN)

“You can see it goes down the hill and it comes back up and it came down as you can see and it never got past the line,” he said. “We got lucky. We got really lucky.”

However, the fire destroyed about a mile of fenceline and scorched the ravine. Before he brings his cows back from a safe pasture, he’ll have to fix that fence.

And he’s still keeping his eye open for hot spots.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before. Never thought I would.”

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