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Community Medicine program provides tools for vulnerable population to prevent blazes

Clackamas Fire's Community Medicine program this summer is providing fire buckets to the homeless community in the Newell Creek watershed in Oregon City. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS FIRE - Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook, left, and LoveOne Executive Director Brandi Johnson, center, hand out fire-prevention buckets to homeless people in Oregon City.

Fire officials, with help from their governmental and nonprofit partners, are handing out buckets containing supplies such as a portable fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, emergency poncho/warming blanket, solar phone charger, solar lantern, Chapstick and sunscreen. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS FIRE - Community Paramedic Amy Jo Cook talks with homeless people about fire safety in the Newell Creek Canyon.

Solar items were meant to offer homeless people an alternative power supply and eliminate their need for their using an open flame or car batteries, which present many risks, including exposed wiring.

Highly vulnerable to fires and dangerous for those in the area due to limited access, Newell Creek's watershed is located on both sides of Highway 213 heading from I-205 to Beavercreek Road.

Fire buckets are aiming to prevent tragic accidents that could spread wildfires to nearby neighborhoods. In 2017, after putting a fire out in Oregon City's Abernethy Creek Park, fire personnel found 45-year-old Rachael Renee Edwards dead inside a tent.

The buckets were funded by a grant from the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office and are supported through members of Central City Concern's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, LoveOne and the Clackamas Fire Marshal's Office. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS FIRE - Inside every bucket being handed out to homeless people is a portable fire extinguisher, first aid kit, emergency poncho/warming blanket, solar phone charger, solar lantern, Chapstick and sunscreen.

"We have the hope that this will reduce the chance of fires growing and spreading to nearby communities," said Clackamas Fire community paramedic Amy Jo Cook, who is leading the program.

Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Bill Stewart said, "Not only will this help reduce the risk of fires spreading in the canyon, it will continue and strengthen the efforts of our partners to build trust with homeless folks and, ultimately, get them housed."

Raymond Rendleman, editor of the Clackamas Review/Oregon City News, contributed to this news story.

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