As the smoke subsides, West Coast climate activists show what an effective response looks like

Originally published on

Credit: Peter Stevens

When the Almeda Fire started in the southern Oregon community of Ashland on Sept. 8, it quickly grew and spread up the Highway 99 corridor. After devastating the small towns of Talent and Phoenix in the Rogue River Valley, it eventually reached the larger city of Medford. By the time it was contained on Sept. 15, more than 2,300 homes were destroyed, 80,000 people had been evacuated and 3,200 acres had burned. At least three people died in the fire.

Many similarly destructive fires raged up and down the West Coast this month. Although the causes of the inferno are complex, the role of climate change stands out. “Scientists have been projecting increased wildfire intensity due to climate change for years,” said Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate, a grassroots organization whose office in Phoenix, Oregon burned to the ground. “This year’s fires are a result of conscious decisions made by polluting industries and politicians to push continued reliance of fossil fuels.”

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