Ashland Oregon 2020 Fires - How to Stay Safe

Ashland Oregon 2020 Fires - How to Stay Safe 

Full Video Transcript Below

Southern Oregon Real Estate Show with Katie Gibble, Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator, Ashland OR

Alice Lema: [00:00:00] Well, good morning, Southern Oregon, and welcome to the real estate show. Pete Belcastro, Alice Lema,, we're your host today. We're both brokers here at John L. Scott in Southern Oregon. And Pete we had another really interesting topsy-turvy week. Didn't we.

[00:00:23]Pete Belcastro: [00:00:23] Gosh, you know, summer is just starting. It's so weird. It seems like we should be in September about now. We've got a long way to go for the summer. Alice, there's a lot of activity going on. There's so many changes happening in our markets around, you know, rural properties. There's no irrigation water and some how our fire season is here. And we're looking at that.

[00:00:41] We're looking at lots of luxury homes on the market. My goodness. I've never seen so many luxury homes available in our region as there is right now. Interest rates are going to be rising as well we're saying. So the market is all we talked about this every week. The market changes literally every week as we talk about it.

[00:00:59] And we're seeing it again. Today on this show, it's talking about fire and fire prevention. We are in fire season.. And look what it was last year. We all know that's horrible fires that destroyed so many lives and so many people's homes and their things. We're in it again. Have we learned anything from it?

[00:01:17] Well, I don't know Katie Gibble from the city of Ashland's fire office. So she's a preventative fire officer going to join us to talk about that or have we made any progress? Do we know, are we coordinating, are we better prepared this summer than we were last summer before all the fires started?

[00:01:33] We're going to find out. It's going to be interesting, to interesting to know.

[00:01:36] Alice Lema: [00:01:36] Yeah. I would also like to hear her take on the Almeda and the Obenchain fires. Just to get her perspective because I think she had to evacuate as well.

[00:01:46] Pete Belcastro: [00:01:46] Well, you know, what's going to happen with Pacific Power. Are we going to cut power to people this year?

[00:01:51] Alice Lema: [00:01:51] Oh, that's good. Yeah. What about that?

[00:01:54] Pete Belcastro: [00:01:54] To put out a fire to help put a fire out. I mean, there's lots of things going on and whether you live in a rural area, which you're really more vulnerable than you are in an urban area, but it really doesn't matter anymore.

[00:02:06] We're all in this together, no matter where you live. And so preventing and, and getting ready, I think is the biggest key. And hopefully, Alice, people are more aware of it. Because of what happened last year that we're going to do better this year. That's my hope.

[00:02:21] Alice Lema: [00:02:21] It's a good reminder, it's a good time to have her on the show. We love Katie Gibble and she always brings a wealth of information. She's very nice. And she'll also talk to the homeowners, which I think is something people don't know, always knows. So you can actually talk to a human about what you can do with your place. Either the one you have or the one you're about to buy.

[00:02:42] So and I think the rogue valley association realtors has been working with them to come up with some kind of educational process for the realtors. So maybe we can ever speak to that.

[00:02:52] Pete Belcastro: [00:02:52] Lots of stuff. Just be ready. We're going to be in for, we're going to be in for interesting next for the rest of the summer, summer starting this weekend.

[00:03:00] We'll see what happens when we get to fall. Wow. It's a long way off and a lot can happen between now whatever you're going to do.

[00:03:08] Alice Lema: [00:03:08] So stay tuned folks. We'll be right back after a brief word from our sponsor. We're brought to you today by the rogue valley association realtors. Don't touch that dial. We'll be right back.

[00:03:18] Well, welcome back to the real estate show folks. I'm Alice Lema. I'm here with my cohost Pete Belcastro. We're both real estate brokers at John L. Scott here in Southern Oregon. And we're so excited to welcome Katie Gimbel from Ashland fire prevention. Hi, Katie. How are you today?

[00:03:33] Katie Gibble: [00:03:33] Doing well this morning? How about you all?

[00:03:36]Alice Lema: [00:03:36] We're doing good, but I know Pete and I have a lot of questions and I know, a four-part program that you want to talk about. So here we are in the middle of fire season and you've got a lot going on once you bring us up to speed.

[00:03:49]Katie Gibble: [00:03:49] Yeah. Yeah. It's definitely been a whirlwind adventure leading up to fire season this year, particularly in response to that 2020 labor day fires that occurred throughout Oregon. Including here in the Rogue Valley with the Obenchain and Almeda fires. So with that, the public before, you know, we, we would get people trickling in with questions, but afterwards it was like the flood gates were open and the number of people in the community that were concerned about fire really escalated.

[00:04:18] And fortunately here at Ashland fire and rescue, we've always been doing wildfire prevention and preparedness and outreach and education. And so for us, it was just meeting the audience for the first time in a lot of cases. So we've definitely been busy here at home.

[00:04:33]Pete Belcastro: [00:04:33] So what you're saying, Katie it's nice to have you with us, is that as a result of last summer, people are aware more. They're more opt to listen to you a little bit more because I've heard you over the years and people, you know, from this for many years, always talking about fire prevention and these things, and it really never sunk in until it hit us.

[00:04:53] So has that really changed the view of this? Is that what you're experiencing right now? When you go out into the field.

[00:05:00]Katie Gibble: [00:05:00] Yeah. You know, I just say that the, the success going from education to implementation has really increased. There's been a lot more education just with more and more people requesting our time at the fire department to talk about wildfire prevention and preparedness, but the number of people that have taken that next step until.

[00:05:20] PR taking on the recommendations that we provide to trim back those flammable shrubs away from their home to rake bark, mulch away from their woods siding. It's just exponentially increased. We work pretty closely with the local transfer station and they tell us that they've seen more flammable green debris go into the transfer station than any other year in the past by a lot.

[00:05:40] So we know people are taking action. From the recommendations that we provide, which is, which is great. You know, sometimes it's unfortunate to think that it takes an event for people to take action, but if that's what it takes, then it just helps me sleep better at night, too.

[00:05:57] Pete Belcastro: [00:05:57] Alice, when you talk with clients, I mean the issue of wildfire while it was always there in the past, seems to just come up so much more it's much in our minds now. And especially Alice you think with buyers and sellers, are you seeing that as well? If that conversation is taking place much more seriously than before.

[00:06:17]Alice Lema: [00:06:17] I do. And interestingly enough, at least in my experience, it's from the people who are relocating here because they do so much homework online and that's one of their questions really early on.

[00:06:28] And a lot of folks just don't know that some plants are flammable or more fire dangerous. Or more fire, you know, more friendly toward preventing a fire. So that's, that's a big deal is to inform people just of those plants.

[00:06:43] Katie Gibble: [00:06:43] Yeah, absolutely. It starts with the basics and, you know, stepping back to, you know, talking about new people, moving into the valley it's a common conversation I have with new folks in the valley.

[00:06:54] They, they talk about how they moved away from wherever they were before to get away from the fire danger to get away from the smoke. But what I always have to tell people is, you know, in Ashland, Oregon, you're just a crows fly away from the California border where everyone associates that state with fire danger.

[00:07:12] We're very much in there. We very much experienced high fire danger throughout the rogue valley, particularly as we're moving into the heat of the summer. And so anything that we can do to educate them, starting with what landscaping that they're working on or updating now that they have a new home. Or talking about evacuation and how to improve that for themselves. All that really plays a big role and helping people contextualize that they are at danger to fire.

[00:07:38] Pete Belcastro: [00:07:38] Well, I was wondering, you know, this last year, when, when we went through the, you know, the fires that, that we did it seems like as we urban, I mean, most of us thought.My house burned, so I, I'm, I'm one of those victims there, but what's so interesting about it you never think it's going to happen to you in an urban setting.

[00:07:54] I mean the Obenchain Fire, you know, that was out there. The 2 42 fire in Klamath county west are all at that same time. You, you think they're going to happen in the rural areas, but this one was an urban fire also that we experienced. So how are you dealing with the urban people? You know, the people in the cities who say I'm pretty, I'm pretty free from this.

[00:08:15] I'm not, I'm not subject to it, but we are.

[00:08:19] Katie Gibble: [00:08:19] Yeah, and it is a cultural shift. And in terms of how we think about fire danger and what is a wildfire. And it's something that in our profession, we think about a lot. We call fires that move into the urban interface and rather than the primary fuel being trees or shrubs, or like the wild and wildfire, the main source of fuel becomes homes.

[00:08:40] And that's exactly what we experienced in the Almeida fire. Where once a couple of homes are ignited within a subdivision, where houses are dense and close to one another, that home to home spread is what we call an urban conflagration. And if homes are the primary source of fuel and a fire spreading it's going to be nearly impossible to stop just because of the amount of fuel that is within an individual home.

[00:09:03] And that's where we really take a step back and say, Hey, as an individual homeowner, it is your responsibility to be that person that stops that first home from igniting. Which then causes fire to spread to your neighbor's home. And then becomes unattainable and uncontrollable for a fire department to put out.

[00:09:20] So it all starts at stopping that home first home from igniting in the first place, when you're in a dense, urban setting, like you are throughout much of the rogue valley.

[00:09:29] Alice Lema: [00:09:29] Hmm. Well Katie since we also had all this happened during the COVID shut down, it's, it's been hard for people to even consider having you come out or going to your office and getting this information.

[00:09:45] Now that we're almost a year past the Almeida fire and the Obenchain fire if somebody is in town, what would you suggest they look at inside their home and outside their home?.

[00:09:56] Katie Gibble: [00:09:56] Yeah. So for wildfire safety, the key is really starting at the exterior of the house and working your way out. So when I'm talking the exterior of the house, I'm talking you know, what landscaping material do you have right up growing against the side of your house. And even more importantly, potentially what is that siding composed of? If you have old shakes siding, that's been baking in the sun for the last 35 years. It is time to update that with something a little more hardened to fire, to fire. Things like fiber cement are really popular. A lot of people stucco over their homes, which doesn't always look great, but there are definitely better options out there than just wood shakes that's going to bake in the sun.

[00:10:36] So those are the more expensive things that you can do. But if you have a short, if you're short on budget, starting with those landscaping items around the home, Taking a couple of hours out of your morning to rake away flammable bark mulch from the first five feet around your home, raking up leaves and needles that have accumulated underneath your deck.

[00:10:54]And keeping that deck surface swept, clean and clear pulling out leaf and needle debris out of your gutters this timeof year is perfect. Because when a fire comes, even if it's miles away, embers are going to be raining down potentially on your property, depending on which way the fire's coming from. And if you have any receptive fuels that are easily ignited by those embers, that's going to be the kindling that potentially could ignite your home.

[00:11:17] And so starting with those really simple things that don't cost a lot of money are the things that I recommend that you first.

[00:11:24] Pete Belcastro: [00:11:24] Yeah. You know, one of the things that we've taken for granted for years is we've always had irrigation water in our valley. Where, you know, lots of rural lands, lots of rural properties using irrigation water for pastures  and you have a lot of green space. This is totally different. I mean, we have no water to the rogue valley. How dry usually it's green, you know, this time of year and it dry. Are you concerned because of the way with no irrigation water, that we're going to have more dry fuels in these fields that can ignite easily and do the same things that happened last year? Is that a concern as you, as you all talk about how to prevent fires and in dealing with them from your level?

[00:12:08] Katie Gibble: [00:12:08] Yeah. You know, if you've got a field of grass that you're normally able to keep irrigated, and now it's drying out because you're doing the smart thing and conserving water for other uses, what you need to do is make sure that you're keeping that grass trimmed as short as you can.

[00:12:21] That way the ability of fire to spread is a lot less because the taller, your fuel is the higher, the flame length of that resulting fuel. So you have to do what you can with what you've got. And this year we do not have a lot of water and so we've got to work with it. And so I've worked with a lot of individual landowners that normally have irrigated like green lawns that now they're letting dry out and keeping that cut back and then being super conscious about all the landscaping that's directly around that dry grass.

[00:12:50] Making that more of a fire resistant barrier than allowing fire to continue closer to the home. So it is an individual conversation when it comes to conserving water. Fortunately you can have water conservation and fire wise all in one. It but it does take a lot of work around an individual property.

[00:13:08] Pete Belcastro: [00:13:08] Yeah. And are you cracking down on weed weeds that are out there? I mean, there's, there's lots of weeds on public property as well as private property. So that seems to be such a a fuel as you've talked about ignition there, are we working on that? Are you guys, are we cutting these ditches. These areas that are so prone with, with, with tourists and people coming through, that seems to be such a vulnerable point for us.

[00:13:33] Katie Gibble: [00:13:33] Oh yeah, totally. And I'm in Ashland. We have a weed abatement deadline of June 15th. So two days ago our weed the abatement coordinator? I haven't seen him in two days because he's out and about checking to make sure that people have cut their grass cut back, their Blackberry, which you know, was a carrier of the Almeida fire early on.

[00:13:52] And so in the city, we're really proactive about making sure people meet that weed abatement deadline. So that there is far less easily ignitable fuel in the community. That being said, you know, people that are traveling through town, I worry about sometimes just yesterday, I heard chains dragging on the roadway and that makes me cringe because chains kicking sparks can easily ignite any tall, dry grass.

[00:14:15] So being super conscious about all of those things is really important.

[00:14:19] Alice Lema: [00:14:19] So, and I don't think people realize that, that the metal on roads being metal on rock. And that's why you have to be careful when you're mowing right now. Can you talk a little bit about that?

[00:14:30] Katie Gibble: [00:14:30] Yeah. Yeah. So as we move up in fire danger, so in Oregon, we have low, moderate, high, and very high fire danger. And right now we're in moderate. And what that means is between the hours of 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM, you are not allowed to cut using motorized equipment. And the reason for that is that motorized equipment could kick sparks and ignite during the driest hottest part of the day starting a fire.

[00:14:53] And as fire season moves higher and higher in danger, those restrictions become more and more severe. So in the extreme times that we actually really prohibit any of that equipment from being used. So it is important to be doing that work now. And that's why we have the weed abatement deadline on June 15th, because it's right about now, just like today, where it's really starting to get warm outside and we need people to have their grass cut already.

[00:15:17] Alice Lema: [00:15:17] And if they don't what happens.

[00:15:19]Katie Gibble: [00:15:19] In worst case scenarios, they are fined. However, usually it's just a one-on-one conversation, warning people to get it done or else they will be fined. So usually our weed abatement  coordinator only ends up having to find two or three people a year. And that's out of over a thousand weed abatement issues that he knows about in the city. So pretty good.

[00:15:38] Alice Lema: [00:15:38] Well, that is pretty good. We're speaking with Katie Gibble from Ashlyn fire and safety and yeah. Pete  Belcastro, Alice Lema.We'll be right back with word of our sponsors who were brought to you by John L. Scott of Southern Oregon rogue valley association of realtors and guy Giles of mutual of Omaha mortgage.

[00:15:57] Do not touch that dial.

[00:15:58] Katie Gibbon. We'll be right back. Well, welcome back to the real estate show folks. I'm Alice Lema here with Pete Belcastro.  We're both real estate brokers at John L. Scott here in Southern Oregon. And we're having a very interesting conversation with Katie Gibble. She's the fire adapted communities coordinator in Ashlin.

[00:16:17]We refer to her just as fire safety. That's alot shorter. And that's more about what she does. And when we talked to you last year, we had not had the fire theAlmeida or the Obenchain. And we were just taking a few minutes to hear from you about what folks can do to get ready. And Pete brought up the fact that we don't have any irrigation water.

[00:16:37] So how does that work now, if we have another situation especially out in the rural district and we don't have access to extra water.

[00:16:46] Katie Gibble: [00:16:46] Right. Yeah. You know, I really just being in the city, can't speak to what's going on in rural districts, but I do know that, you know, we do have enough municipal water supply that in terms of fighting, even in Almeda scale, fire in town, certainly conserving water during an event will be really important, but that we're not, we're not really having conversations about running out of water to prevent a fire. We don't foresee that scenario, even in these circumstances, which is reassuring, I think.

[00:17:17] Pete Belcastro: [00:17:17] Not much water around. So I hope you're right my question Katie is that, you know, one of the big criticisms out of last summer's fires was at the core between agencies and cities, as thing was not very. And I'm wondering if this year, if you've seen a change in that you know, I lived in Ashland 26 years on the issue of fire was always there.

[00:17:36] I mean, every year we knew about it. We haven't had the big fire Ashlin this stuff, but it's still there. So I'm curious as to are you coordinating better? Are we get agencies working better together? Because as we saw last summer, it crosses the boundaries. It doesn't matter if you're in a city, in an urban area or whatever.

[00:17:55] So I'm curious, improved in your, in your eyes, that the coordination from your end of the agencies

[00:18:02] Katie Gibble: [00:18:02] this.

[00:18:02] This. Yeah. You know, actually when it comes to like a wild land fire response, we actually follow an incident command system. So the system by which we respond to a fire doesn't change nationally, we all sort of plug into an individual incident in the most effective way possible.

[00:18:20] And what that incident command system actually does, is it requires us all to speak the same language. So when I was working for the state in Utah, compared to what a municipal fire department, what they think about and how they talk about things tends to be a lot different with the exception of responding to a wildland fire where over the years we've reached a point where the language that we use to communicate around fire is the same.

[00:18:44] So I would say coordination of fire response was excellent given our lack of resources on the day of the Almeida fire, but I would say from my perspective in the city, we've certainly increased our level of coordination, particularly around planning for the next fire. And so in response to the Almeida fire, particularly the issues with traffic being diverted off of the I five corridor we've since had many conversations with ODAT to make sure that that diversion doesn't happen again in that scenario.

[00:19:12]So we do know that those conversations are being had. And then as well, sort of speaking back to when we were discussing water and water shortages in the community, we do have plans working with my division chief to coordinate with our water utilities folks to shut off water and key points of town during a wildfire event.

[00:19:32] In other words, we'd be able to navigate as a fire department, people into certain water tanks and certain water shutoff points to make sure that the water that we do have in town is being conserved as opposed to flowing freely in an area that has melted a pipe, or that has burst in an event. So we're certainly working on it on all, all sides of the spectrum.

[00:19:52] Pete Belcastro: [00:19:52] Do you see do you see future problems? I guess I had a client asked me Alice, this is a good question. She asked me, do you want, we needed to put a new roof on a house that they we're buying. And we were in woods and she said, could I put a composite roof on or should I put a metal roof on? Would it be safer for fire?

[00:20:11] And you know, I go, boy, I smashed my head on that one. I said, I've heard it both ways. If that's a smart thing to do, Alice, what I thought anyway, people that tended to have a metal roofs that didn't catch fire. Is that true? Or what are you to think about that when someone asks you that? I don't know. What do you think, Katie?

[00:20:31] Katie Gibble: [00:20:31] Yeah. So both metal roofs and composite roofs shingles are what we call class A roofing. Which is like the best that a roof can be in terms of fire protection. So when they test those rooms, they literally just put bricks of like superheated charcoal on those surfaces.

[00:20:49] And then they test how well they do okay certain periods of time and to be deemed a Class A  roof you have to exceed, I think you know, like a 40 minute threshold where the heat doesn't impact any of the structure around that roofing, whether it's the metal or the composite, those minutes might be wrong, but that's the general rule.

[00:21:08] And so. Those both being equal. What you need to think about then is what is above that roof? So wherea metal group is super handy is if you have a lot of needles or leaves that rain down on that roof when those leaves are shedding what metal roofs do is allow that material flow more quickly down to the gutters. And then it's up to you to clean out your gutters.

[00:21:30] But if you have a lot of leaves and needles that are raining down and you have a composite roof, what happens is friction literally stops those leaves and needles from rolling down your roof to the gutters. And so then when it comes time to do your sprinklers, prepare for fire, you're not only having to clean out your gutters, but you're having to clean off your entire roof.

[00:21:49] Whereas when you have a metal roof, you tend to be able to avoid having to go up there every year to clean off your whole roof. So that's kind of like what I see around town, the uniqueness of having a metal roof, but all things being equal composite tends to be cheaper and it gets equal bang for your buck as far as fire protection.

[00:22:06] What about tile roof?

[00:22:09] Tile roofs, I haven't seen many of those in town. I see, I've seen them in like Wisconsin. Yeah, they're kind of pricey. So I only have them in certain subdivisions, but I just wondered. Yeah, they must have a pretty good rating.

[00:22:21] Oh yeah. They're certainly Class A. You know, the, the worst offenders and there's not many of them around town anymore are wood shake roofs.

[00:22:30] Those are just like Tinder boxes waiting to happen. But usually what you see is either Class A  roofing, composite being the most common example and or you get wood shake, which really freaks us out.

[00:22:43] Pete Belcastro: [00:22:43] Well, you don't see many, many wood shake roofs anymore around.

[00:22:46] Let me ask you this question, Katie. TheBear Creek Greenway last year, of course, as it burned so hot and so bad, a lot of the Blackberry briars, you know, were all burned out of there. And I know they came back and planted grasses in there to stabilize.

[00:23:01] But when you buy it today, those grasses are pretty tall.They're all brown, all, you know, we have a lot of problems on the Greenway, again, with, with transients, whatever you want to say. Are those fuels, are they ready to burn or what are we going to do to clear those out? Are we going to clear Berry briars along the Greenway? Because it's still a vulnerable place. It looks like in my opinion.

[00:23:26] Katie Gibble: [00:23:26] Yeah, totally. In fact, I just took a class out to the Greenway to look at that tall, dry grass, as an example of, Hey, you know, are we, are we doing much better down here in terms of fire spread? And as the grass can, you know, I was out there like a month ago and that grass hadn't  started growing yet.

[00:23:43] And then it seemed like over the course of the week, not only hadn't grown two feet, but it  also started curing out or browning out. And now it's very dry and I know here in Ashland, they've actually started mowing all of that down, which is a best practice because that root mass is still in there and is going to be able to provide that soil stabilization that they need along Bear Creek.

[00:24:02]And it's going to be cut short so that the flame lengths if anything ignited and there would be a lot lower than during the Almeida fire where that the flames off of that Blackberry were well and above 30 feet. So yeah, it's certainly a danger, but it's my understanding that they are proactively working on mowing it right now as it cures out.

[00:24:19] So my hope is that that extends throughout the Greenway.

[00:24:23] Pete Belcastro: [00:24:23] There's a lot of it. I mean, they did a great job of planting quickly after the fire, but you're right. All of a sudden you see all this dry grass again, and you say, oh, especially with so many people using the Greenway and puts you in potential for fire.

[00:24:38] Again, it's really, it's really weird how we want to live here a long time. And the issue to a fire was always been around us, but never quite like we talk about it now. We're much more serious about it. It seems because we've had so much in those summer, so many people, again, who've been affected by it and we're still vulnerable.

[00:24:59] My question also, do you think the city of Ashland and Pacific Power that if we get dry and we're going to be really look, summer is just starting this weekend, but Pacific Gas and Electric in California says they're going to shut power off to people when they get to certain conditions. Do you see that happening in the Rogue Valley where Pacific power in the city of Ashland is going to cut power off if we get to certain conditions like we did last year?

[00:25:25]Katie Gibble: [00:25:25] Oh, totally. There are specific cutoffs that those power companies have when the wind reaches a certain miles per hour and is able to sustain that wind speed. They do have pre-planned shutoff conditions to prevent fire ignitions like that.

[00:25:39] So, We don't see many of those conditions in the rogue valley. It's my understanding that they actually looked back and like the wind history of the rogue valley and over the course of the past 10 years, there's only been a handful of those events where those shutoffs would be needed. But that is something that's every power company in the Western United States that has those shut offs, or is working on it at this point, just because of the, the issue that those ignitions cause.

[00:26:06] Pete Belcastro: [00:26:06] Yeah, well, even I have a properties, you know, where you have your lines come down to your house. If you're in a rural area you know, you gotta be really careful. I wonder what's going to happen is we've never faced that situation. And I'm wonder if it could happen. We had a lot, we have a lot more wind it seems.

[00:26:21] Yeah. There's a lot more wind. It seems like than we've had, but maybe that just might be because of the, of the climate condition. But anyway, we'll see what's going on with it, right.

[00:26:31] Katie Gibble: [00:26:31] Yeah. And you know, with that comes another component of the outreach that we provide to residents, which is that you need to prepare for after a fire event.

[00:26:39] So I had to evacuate my house in the Almeida fire, and I didn't have power for four days at my house. And so part of that education and outreach. Preparing for wildfire is also preparing what you're going to come back to. So in the event that your home survives, there's a high likelihood that utilities are going to be cut off to you for, you know, a period of at least 48 hours.

[00:26:59] I'd say that's like super optimistic if not longer. So being prepared for what that lack of power is going to look like is really important, too.

[00:27:06] Alice Lema: [00:27:06] And you to have some of your own medical supplies, you need to be able to take care of your own for a few days, because there's likely not going to be many people able to get to you. So that's super, super important.

[00:27:19] Katie Gibble: [00:27:19] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It's just really important to assume the worst. But ex but also kind of expect the best to like in the event of the Almeida fire. The quickness with which they opened up that emergency center after and during the Almeida fire was super impressive.

[00:27:36] So I'm also, you know, as, as scary as it is to talk about fire, sometimes I'm also super optimistic with just the, the level of community that we experience during the Almeida and Obenchain fires. We can hopefully expect that again.

[00:27:50] Alice Lema: [00:27:50] So amazing to watch it really was so yay for us. Yeah. One of the things that's been talked about the last year was having some extra training for real estate agents about fire safety. Do you want to speak to.

[00:28:04] Katie Gibble: [00:28:04] Yeah, absolutely. The rogue valley association of realtors teamed up with Ashland fire and the city of Ashland to help help real estate agents at least know the basics of what it takes to prepare for fire. And have that conversation with their customers as it comes up. Because as you mentioned, more and more people are asking those questions as they move into the rogue valley.

[00:28:24] And so we've offered a couple of trainings that are offered as classes online. And we're actually moving into the final stage where real estate agents were also curious to know, hey, can we educate some of the inspectors that we work with so that when they're inspecting homes, they know about wildfire as well.

[00:28:40] And so we actually have a training for inspectors at the end of the month. And if you know any inspectors that would be interested to take it, I'd encourage them to reach out to rogue valley association realtors to get that info.

[00:28:51] Alice Lema: [00:28:51] Oh, that is awesome. A year in the making and coming right on time.

[00:28:55] Katie Gibble: [00:28:55] Yeah, totally, absolutely.

[00:28:58] Alice Lema: [00:28:58] So we'll definitely get it out to our inspector people and let the rest of the real estate agents know. We're very grateful to the rogue valley association of realtors. They do a lot of education and it's very spot on. It's very on point in time.

[00:29:12] Katie Gibble: [00:29:12] Yeah, absolutely. Yep. It was, it's been great to work with them and get to like that facet of the community that we don't always get to, which is our real estate agent.

[00:29:20] So super appreciative of that partnership.

[00:29:23] Alice Lema: [00:29:23] Well Katie, we appreciate you so much. You're always one of our favorite guests. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and our radio audience today. We'll be back in a moment with some market update, Pete Belcastro and Alice Lema. We'll be right back. Do not touch that dial.

[00:29:38] Well, welcome back to the real estate show. I'm Alice Lema here with my co-host Pete Belcastro we're both brokers at John L. Scott here in Southern Oregon. And we've had just a very interesting and educational update from Katie Gibble from Ashland fire and safety. And you know, it's interesting Pete, because what people don't realize is fire and fire safety does make a difference in your real estate purchase and how you take care of that asset.

[00:30:03] Pete Belcastro: [00:30:03] Well, and yes. And, and I think especially if you want to treat places that, you know, if you're in the city as one thing, if you're in an urban area, rural areas, the thing, but yeah, it's always so important and I think it's really good that they're getting out there, but the biggest thing out of that we have, we have a change in our mind attitude.

[00:30:19] Since last summer's fires because so many people were affected so much was destroyed, it brought a new a new, personal awareness to it. And I think that's what we're seeing. That's what Katie certainly talked to talks about is that so many more people are aware of it and don't want to have the same mistake that we went through last year, because we're in a, we're in a hot zone again.

[00:30:37] And we're we're, I don't know what's going to happen, but we've got a long way to go just the summer itself and fires. So you know, man, you gotta be prepared. Biggest thing from a victim is make sure, you know what you're going to take with you, where your stuff is that you want to get out of your house if you have to go quickly. That's the thing I didn't do that. I wish I, the only thing I wished I could have gone back and changed was that.

[00:30:57] Alice Lema: [00:30:57] You know, that's a, that's an interesting point because you're a highly digital person. So the items that you're speaking to were more like personal or rescue survival.

[00:31:08] Pete Belcastro: [00:31:08] You you, you w when, when you, when you're, when you're, when they're yelling at you to leave now, because there's fire there and you see flames, you grab what you can. And I wish I would've had a better prepared, more prepared that didn't know, level one, level two. We didn't get any of that. And so that's the biggest lesson I think that we learned from us almost.

[00:31:27] Yeah. Boring summer, but my goodness, it's so dry with little water people be prepared. I mean, that's the biggest thing we can do is be prepared and be smart.

[00:31:36] Alice Lema: [00:31:36] Yeah. And one of the things that cause a lot of trouble for people that were in escrow during the fire, and if the property burned, then there, they had not digitized their documents.

[00:31:47] So this is a great time to do that. This is we should make a campaign. You know, doc, you, digitize your documents, get them scanned, get them on the cloud, your personal photos, anything that cannot deeds well deeds, you can get from the title company for free. But yeah.  I've learned you can't replace any of it once it's lost.

[00:32:08] Right, right. Yeah. So let's talk about the market.

[00:32:12]Pete Belcastro: [00:32:12] It's just here we are at the beginning of the summer. And the thing that I noticed out of this thing is that in Jackson county, We have definitely seen more listings come on the market. Remember a few months ago, 125. I mean, there was just nothing on the market.

[00:32:29] This last week, there were 342 stick-built homes in the market in Jackson county, but what's so strange is 84,of those 300 were luxury homes, in 213 of the 340 were priced at 500,000 and above that leaves only 142 homes, 112 homes in all of Jackson county, under $500,000.

[00:32:55]Alice Lema: [00:32:55] And I showed them all or I showed them.

[00:33:00] Pete Belcastro: [00:33:00] And it's not at 1.3 million or 990,000. But what my question is to you is what's happening. I have never seen so many luxury homes in the market at any one time in Jackson or Josephine county. It's okay.

[00:33:17] Alice Lema: [00:33:17] You, there are three motivations. In my opinion, what I'm experiencing is there's absolute profit taking there's people that just have 50 or a hundred thousand dollars profit all of the sudden and they're just grabbing it. And they don't care where they're going.

[00:33:33] So we do have that slice of the motivation pie. There's also people that were planning on down sizing. And they can't keep those rural properties. And this is a good time, although it's really tough to find a smaller place. You got to arm wrestle the rest of the market, but so there's that batch of people. And then we have another batch that just don't want to live in Oregon anymore.

[00:33:55] We have a big Exodus and. We also have a big influx. So there's a lot of moving around and there's a lot of people that have those big spreads and they're just going to big spreads in Montana, in Wyoming, in Nevada, in Texas, in, you know, name, the state Utah because they're going for tax purposes, they can have their cows anywhere, you know, that kind of a thing.

[00:34:19] So those are the three, three. Yeah.

[00:34:22] Pete Belcastro: [00:34:22] Add to it also no irrigation water.

[00:34:25] Alice Lema: [00:34:25] Well then there's that.

[00:34:28]Pete Belcastro: [00:34:28] Fire dangers are high thinking that, but, but what's so odd about it is that there's so many of the expensive homes, the wealthier, I guess, people who live in the valley are the ones that seem to be putting their homes on the market and going.  We sell a luxury home.

[00:34:47] We don't sell a lot of luxury homes, you know, week by week. I mean, a few sell here and there as we go along. But again, it is a total buyers market in that luxury home area, because there's so many homes, you've got great choices to choose from. Okay.

[00:35:01] Alice Lema: [00:35:01] Coming on the market, there's more people putting their house on the market. Yeah.

[00:35:07] Pete Belcastro: [00:35:07] Where are they going? What are they doing? Okay, we'll take it this way. And let's go down to 350,000. And what do you find me? You'll find nothing and you have to, it, you gotta be ready to go pounce now because they come up and go, but selling very fast as those products.

[00:35:22] Alice Lema: [00:35:22] Well, and those, you know, that's a tough price range because one of my sales just two, two months was a fixer upper and it appraised at $355,000. And that set the new, the new market norm in that part of east Medford.

[00:35:36] So you know, markets rise and fall based on what your neighbor pays. And so right now, I think the fixer upper price in east Medford, Central Point parts of Grants Pass really is that $340,000 or $400,000. But you still can get move in ready stuff. But like you just said, Pete, you do have to be ready to rock and roll the day it comes on the market. And then the other thing that's happened is people are waiting. They're going to go see the property right now, but then they're sitting back and waiting because if it doesn't sell, there might be a price reduction in a couple of weeks or the, or they'll just take a lower price.

[00:36:14] So buyers are playing that game.

[00:36:16] Pete Belcastro: [00:36:16] And the last thing before we get outta here today on our show, you know, what's going to change our market is coming, but not, are we talking about fire and water and all sorts of things like that? We  are going to see interest rates start to rise. Right.

[00:36:29] Alice Lema: [00:36:29] And I announced it this week.

[00:36:31] Pete Belcastro: [00:36:31] Yeah. So my question is also on this and the selling of these luxury homes. So many on the market are people saying I should put them on the market now while the interest rates are still here, because I know they're going to start going up here in another few weeks. Is that playing into this at all or not? I don't know, but no matter what, the 3.1, 3.0 interest rates 2.75, that some of us got whatever we got, those rates are going to go up.

[00:37:00] And once that happens, we have said, Alice for how many months, all bets are off. When they rise, because then that, you know, that $500,000 $600,000 house that you maybe close to being able to afford. It's going to cost more now in financing. So interest rates are going to play a role here. They're going to go up, you better be ready for that.

[00:37:23] We've talked about this for months. It's going to play a role in our market. So, wow. All this is happening with us. What an interesting time it is to be in real estate, whether you buy right now, you sell you whatever with fires and water. We're in for an interesting summer. Alice, the next few months are going to be fascinating to watch and see what happens.

[00:37:43] Alice Lema: [00:37:43] Yeah. It doesn't feel like we've been in a real estate blender for like 16 months.

[00:37:50] Pete Belcastro: [00:37:50] I'll never forget that show we did on March when they shut down the whole state and what we been through and seen since that, I don't think any of us could have ever predict. Yeah, be smart. That's the biggest thing and be safe and get your home ready, get all this ready because we're going to be in for an interesting summer ahead in all of our counties, Jackson, Josephine Klamath as well..

[00:38:14] And I think

[00:38:14] Alice Lema: [00:38:14] it's going to be a great buying opportunity. I think if you're reasonable with your price, it will also be a great selling opportunity. So so keep it in mind. You can get ahold of either Pete or Alice we're around all the time, have a beautiful Southern Oregon weekend and we will see you next week.

[00:38:29] Bye.


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