The homes in the lower Morgan Lake Road area are now one step away from being granted fire protection from the La Grande Rural Fire Department.
The Union County Board of Commissioners voted to approve petitions from the homeowners Wednesday. Next the petitions have to be approved by the Oregon Department of Revenue. Once this occurs, all 14 of the homes in question will begin receiving emergency fire service.
Currently, only the land surrounding the homes are protected during wildfires by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Should approval be granted, residents on lower Morgan Lake Road will have fire protection for their houses for the first time ever, said Mike McAllister, who has lived on lower Morgan Lake Road for decades. McAllister has been a leader in the effort to get fire protection for this area.
The fire protection option became available after the residents banded together to successfully request that their properties be annexed individually into the fire district. This means that residents who agree to pay additional money in property taxes, submit the proper paperwork to the county and the state, pay required fees and get proper board approval will receive emergency service from La Grande Rural Fire if department officials determine that their fire trucks can reach the home.
Jim Kreider, who with his wife, Fuji, owns a home in the lower Morgan Lake Road area, is delighted that it appears they will soon have fire protection for their home.
“It sets my mind at ease,” he said.
He noted that a Union County report in the 1980s indicated homes in the Morgan Lake area faced the highest wildfire risk of any in the county.