LYONS, Ore. (KOIN) — Several people living along North Fork Road in Lyons say they never got an evacuation notice and barely made it out as the wildfire ripped through the area on Labor Day.
The five people who died in the Beachie Creek Fire also lived along North Fork Road. Now, multiple families are demanding a better alert system and answers as to why they weren’t warned.
Claire Greco lived six miles up North Fork Road and lost her home in the fire. She told KOIN 6 News the wind on September 7 was unlike anything she’d ever experienced: it knocked out power and, since she relied on WiFi for cell service, she lost that, too.
But Greco had a landline and said she never got a call to evacuate.
Her neighbors Christina and Tim Kahle said the same happened to them and believe an early warning about nearby evacuations would have resulted in a much different outcome.
“I don’t know why they didn’t start down the North Fork and evacuate or let people know they were going to evacuate,” said Christina Kahle. “I know they were overwhelmed but I don’t think people should’ve died.”
The Kahles said they lived just a mile from Wyatt Tofte and Peggy Mosso. Both were found dead in their car with the family dog. They said they finally received an alert to evacuate around midnight but they were already safe in Salem by that time.
“I think that would’ve made a difference—not for houses, not for personal property—but just for people getting out and not being injured and maybe some of those lives might’ve been saved,” said Greco.
KOIN 6 News has reached out to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office about how the evacuation alerts were distributed. Deputies said they’re still trying to piece everything together.
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