APPLEGATE, Ore. (AP) - Kathy Dean is self-appointed
information-central and rumor-squelcher for property owners
monitoring smoke and flames in their neck of the woods.
From the Timbered Rock and Tiller to Biscuit and East Antelope
fires, Dean has been sending about five e-mails daily to 150
people, including Applegate and Illinois valley residents, this
fire season.
"I'm doing it for the satisfaction that people are getting
accurate information," said the 55-year-old retired engineer.
Dean sends out official fire updates, evacuation, road-closure
and power supply information, maps, satellite photos and emergency
announcements. She said most of her information comes from the
Oregon Department of Forestry.
Dean said her mission began last summer when the Quartz fire was
burning on the ridge behind her house. She struggled to get
accurate information and she was continually wondering what in the
world was going on. When firefighters used Dean's property as a
helibase and staging area to fight the Quartz fire, she saw an
Dean said that with the ODF and the U.S. Bureau of Land
Management on her porch every morning, she had accurate, up-to-date
details, and began e-mailing area residents to keep them informed.
"I would get the maps and all the local information, and I
would send it out," said Dean.
So when the Squire fire started July 13 in the Applegate Valley,
she dusted off the old e-mail list. She soon acquired more
residents' e-mail addresses from ODF, as well as people who wrote
to her and asked to be added to the list.
"There's a lot of people out there who don't get TV and don't
get radio and they depend on their e-mail," Dean said.
Dennis Turco, ODF fire prevention specialist, said Dean fills an
important role.
"It's really hard to explain how important it is," he said.
"Getting accurate information out in a timely manner, that's
always been a big challenge to us.
"Through her network she's been able to reach people we
wouldn't normally reach. It kind of fills a void we've had."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press