Oregon fire marshal RESIGNS as wildfires erupt after boss 'lost confidence' in him when he 'searched for residents'

THE Oregon fire marshal has resigned amid raging wildfires after his boss "lost confidence" in him as he searched for residents, reports say.

On Saturday, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker reportedly handed in his notice to State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton as wildfires scorched areas of Oregon, California, and Washington.




Walker's sudden departure after six years as Fire Marshal came hours after he was put on administrative leave – but state authorities have yet to reveal why as the wildfire rage.

Walker supposedly passed the role's day-to-day duties to his chief deputy, Mariana Ruiz-Temple, according to Oregon Live.

Apparently, Hampton had lost confidence in Walker's capacity to handle the raging blazes that have ravaged the West Coast, a source told the publication.

But reports have suggested that it may be related to State Fire Marshal Walker being reprimanded for offering to search for a distraught employee's relative.

This "distraught" person was concerned about a family member who lived in Santiam Canyon, an area affected by the Beachie Creek Fire, reported the Statesman Journal





"So what I said is, 'Let me go. Let me do this for you,'" Walker told the publication, saying it's hard for deputies who are forced to search for people they know."And so that's what I did.

"Superintendent Hampton's assessment was I overstepped my role and took this action without authority to do so."

Walker and four others from that household traveled to Santiam Canyon to to comb the area for the family member of this worker and initially, they didn't find anyone.

However, they were able to make contact with the missing people after a woman with knowledge of what was going on got their numbers.




Everyone was okay bar the one person who remained unaccounted for.

The operations chief of the incident management team for the Beachie Creek Fire cleared the search to go ahead, according to Walker.

He told the Statesman Journal he could no longer work in an environment that was "non-supportive."

"Following your conversation with me on Friday, September 11, I understand you have lost faith in my ability to meet leadership expectations in service to OSP," Walker's resignation letter read.

"My hope was to continue supporting the Oregon Fire Service, even as we face unprecedented challenges. However, as this appears not possible, I am offering my resignation effective today, September 12, 2020."





Oregon State Police confirmed Ruiz-Temples was officially appointed as the new fire marshal.

"Mariana has led with grace, transparency and courage," Gov. Kate Brown was quoted as saying in their statement. "She embodies the experience Oregon needs to face this crisis, in this moment."

Hampton said the ongoing wildfire crisis "necessitated a leadership change," per the statement.

"Mariana is assuming this position as Oregon is in an unprecedented crisis which demands an urgent response," he said. "This response and the circumstances necessitated a leadership change.

"I have the absolute confidence in Mariana to lead OSFM operations through this critical time."




Linn County Commissioner John Lindsey told Oregon Live couldn't confirm that a lapsed response was due to this leadership shakeup.

Lindsey said the usual protocol of state officials getting phone call updates from commissioners hasn't happened as the crisis continues.

"The one consistent denominator missing was the state," he said.

Wildfires have burnt one million acres across Oregon; according to the state's fire and hot spot dashboard, 14 fires are still raging.

The inferno has resulted in power outages, homes and businesses being destroyed, and at least nine deaths, per Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Three of these fatalities were attributed to the Almeda Fire.

Four people died on Saturday during the Beachie Creek Fire and one other person died in the Holiday Farm Fire. 

Tragically, a little boy called Wyatt Toft, 13, who hid in a car with his pet dog to escape the flames, died in the blaze.

His mom's still in a critical condition with full body burns after his grandmother succumbed to the raging fire.

The escalating blaze edging towards the suburbs of Portland forced the city to declare a state of emergency on Thursday. 

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