Wildfires Force Northwest Fruit Pickers Out Of Camps

Jul 21, 2014
Originally published on August 8, 2014 12:49 pm

Fire officials estimate wildfires have burned more than 1,200 square miles in Washington and Oregon. Crews are working fast to build fire lines between the rapidly moving flames and rural communities. But hundreds of people remain on evacuation alert.

The expansive fruit orchards around Brewster, Washington, reach almost into the town itself. Companies here employ thousands of people as seasonal pickers. But the massive blazes moving across the landscape are now threatening some of the outlying camps where workers live.

Ricardo Hernandez said he got the word very suddenly on Friday morning at about 2 a.m.. He woke up to the sound of one of his friends knocking on the door of the cabin. The whole hill behind them was on fire. As they made a run for their cars one of the cabins was already burning.

Hernandez came up here from California. He said he hopes he'll still be able to work while he stays at a shelter.

The Red Cross has been taking in a steady stream of people from communities affected by the fires in central Washington. The head of the local chapter says there are Spanish-speaking volunteers at each site.

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