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Letters to the Editor

October 16, 2020

Dear Editor,

Before I moved to Oregon (indeed before last month), I had never been up close and personal with a fire, beyond one that destroyed a single home.

I thought you might like to see photos of a small segment of the fire aftermath in Talent, Oregon. The community was destroyed by fire. Overall, in Talent and the neighboring small town of Phoenix, over 2000 structures burned down.

All these pictures were taken in a six-block area bordered by Talent Ave, Valley View Road, Route 99 (the main road through this area before I-5 was built) and Rapp road. On the western edge, Talent Ave. was a barrier. You’ll see an untouched home on that side and--the only damage I could see there---a stand of corn that apparently couldn’t survive the heat.

STARK CONTRAST IN A SMALL TOWN: Catastrophic damage vs. no damage at all (below)

Sometimes the fire did odd things. Whether it was the result of people spraying water or fire suppressing foam, or just random luck, two buildings on Route 99 survived untouched (you can see a corner of one in one photo). One was an evangelical church, so one might think prayer was the answer, but the other is a plumbing business and I have no explanation for that.

At the end, I’ve included photos from a display along a fence bordering the fire damage. There were many more hand-made signs, in English and in Spanish.

There is a heartwarming sense of community in the town. Ashland, the city where I live, is helping too. It would be nice to have the secret of creating community without having a tragedy as a trigger. Most of you don’t live in an area bounded by forest in a state that is hot and dry; this fire and others on the West Coast show that the dangers of climate change are here and now

A SHOW OF SUPPORT: From the neighborhood children

May all of you be safe from fires and COVID-19 and (name what else scares you) ☺

Mary Coombs/Ashland, Ore.


Mary I. Coombs earned a B.A. in 1965, an M.A. in sociology in 1967, an M.A. in library science in 1970, and a J.D. in 1978, all from the University of Michigan. Following graduation from law school, she served as law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She was in private practice until she joined the University of Miami School of Law faculty in 1983. She was a professor at the law school for 31 years, until retiring in 2014



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