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Letters, Aug. 10

Lithia Park: fire hazard zone

The Aug. 3 fire that began near Ashland Creek not far from the children’s playground and Butler Bandshell was no surprise to me.

Allegedly ignited from an illegal cooking fire behind a storage shed on the main path, prompt response by firefighters put it down before it escaped up a steep hillside overgrown with brush and dry grass. The unpaved portion of Pioneer Street was a fire break.

Had conditions been different, say delayed response and high winds, fire could have advanced up the canyon. It’s not hard to visualize flying embers crossing Pioneer and Glenview Drive.

Earlier this year, fire crews cleared brush, downed trees, and managed burn piles on the hillside between the creek, Fork Street and Glenview Drive. These areas are now overgrown with thigh-high combustible vegetation.

The area behind the old storage shed is a commonly used hiding place for vagrants and homeless campers. The hillside below Pioneer beginning near the OSF Allen Pavilion, fenced for “erosion control,” is now breached in many areas allowing entry for illegal camping. Perhaps Ashland Parks and Rec and the Police Department are already discussing measures to prevent another bullet like the one just dodged. I hope so.

Bill Southworth

Ashland

Talent concerns

I am very concerned about recent and ongoing roadwork in the city of Talent. During the recent fire, both Highway 99 and connector road between the city and the freeway were major evacuation routes for those fleeing the fire.

At the time, those routes were four lanes, two in each direction, and were probably a big reason there was no loss of life. They were also efficient access to the fire area by local and assisting fire departments, ambulances and other emergency equipment.

Now, defying all logic, these four-lane roads are being modified by the placement of permanent concrete barriers in the two outer lanes effectively reducing them to one lane in each direction. People fleeing in one direction and emergency equipment arriving in the other, what could go worng?

Yet there is one final puzzle, why is the city taking $18 million of previously approved funding away from Fire District 5, the very agency that will be first on scene for emergencies in Talent? There is a mixup in priorities in Talent.

Bob Downing

Talent