MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Federal officials say that trailers at an industrial site in southwest Oregon, which were rumored to house unaccompanied immigrant children, are actually for survivors of the September 2020 wildfires.
The Mail Tribune reported on Sunday that the rumors spurred people with guns to show up at the site to protest the presence of the trailers. Officials say the group did not brandish their weapons in a threatening manner and no one was hurt.
“Those rumors are false. We are not utilizing the manufactured home units or any of the travel trailers to house unaccompanied immigrants or individuals who are crossing the border in the south, the north or any other border,” said Toney Raines, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's coordinating officer for the state of Oregon.
During the September 2020 wildfires in Oregon, more than 1,562 square miles (4,046 square kilometers) and at least 4,000 homes were destroyed. Jackson County, which is located in Southern Oregon and was the hardest hit area, lost 2,500 homes and, as of last week, 785 fire survivors were still living in hotels.
The flames that ravaged Oregon and wiped out affordable housing and entire neighborhoods only exacerbated the state's housing crisis.
“We have almost no vacancy anywhere. We’re at essentially 0% vacancy,” John Vial, the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center director, told the Mail Tribune. “These FEMA trailers are absolutely essential. We don’t have other options for housing. Without bringing in and placing trailers, people will have nowhere to go. These trailers are absolutely critical for our community.”
The trailers and units have been hauled to several communities impacted by the fires, including 96 in Jackson County.