Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy told the City Council that this year’s summer weather may get very serious. Hot temperatures, carelessly stoked campfires, a smoker falling asleep by a campfire or other sources of ignition may ignite a conflagration – and not too far from a lot of housing. Chief Murphy laid it out that this summer may be the worst wildland fire season in the last 100 years. Chief Murphy told the Newport City Council Monday night that the fire danger is very high and could trap hikers, campers, the homeless and just plain people high in the hills with no escape. Chief Murphy strongly suggested that close-in hiking may be the first casualty of the summer season requiring that no one…NO ONE…should be allowed in and around the Big Creek Dam area.
Chief Murphy told the council that access to the hills to the north and east of Newport could trigger a red hot conflagration inflicting terrible damage to the area’s water supply. Chief Murphy told the council that invasive plant species have emerged throughout the area crowding out the indigenous plants that struggle to survive. Chief Murphy also alluded to the possibility that Forest Service and other outdoor preservationists could make it a top priority to remove invasive plant and tree species that have damaged the coastal environment.