Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency in Portland, Oregon due to the fires raging in the area including Southern Oregon which received aid from firefighters from Guanajuato, Mexico. About 500,000 residents across the sate – 10 percent of the population – have had to evacuate because of the fast-moving wildfires that has already killed four. In Southern Oregon the Almeda Fire- which started in Ashland – burned 3000 acres and left one dead. The Heroico Cuerpo de Bomberos Voluntarios of Guanajuato, Mexico offered to aid the city of Ashland to fight the fires after 51 years of being considered sister cities. Ashland lies along Interstate 5 approximately 16 miles north of the California while Guanajuato is located in central Mexico.
“We have been in contact with our brothers in Ashland to tell them that they are not only in our thoughts and in our prayers, but that we are ready to take action if required, ” Mayor of Guanajuato Alejandro Navarro Saldaña said reports AM. Journalist Ambar Rodriguez of KTVL in Southern Oregon posted a photo of the firefighters from Guanjajuato arriving Sept. 10 and Latinx Twitter voiced their support.
Ashland is a sister city with Guanajuato. Southern Oregon University (in Ashland) has a strong, long-standing exchange program with Guanajuato.
It makes sense and makes it more heart-warming.
— Heather Burbach – experimenting with platforms (@Burbachbacon) September 11, 2020
The town of Phoenix in Oregon near the California state line suffered tremendous losses from the Almeda Fire including 600 homes and another 35,000 homes remained threatened in and around the area, the Medford Mail Tribune reports. Many of the residents were immigrants with limited resources, CBS reports, with about 15 percent of population of Phoenix being Latinx.
“However, we are competing with other fires burning in Oregon, so we are reaching out to other states for help,” Rich Tyler, of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office said to Redding Record Searchlight. The story of Guanajuato firefighters aiding in Oregon hasn’t received as much attention but it’s a testament to the loyalty between the sister cities and Mexico’s willingness to aid despite the current politics.
In 2019 Chris Chambers of Ashland Fire & Rescue wrote a piece to honor the 50th anniversary of Ashland and Guanajuato’s sisterhood commending the firefighters of Guanajuato.
“Firefighters in any country and setting are special people for the life they’ve chosen, and especially volunteer firefighters of any nationality, including those in our valley. But in Guanajuato, the bomberos are a special kind of volunteer,” he wrote for Ashland Tidings. “And like here, women serve as well, and though we’ve adopted the gender neutral ‘firefighter’ for the outdated ‘fireman,’ I didn’t hear ‘bombera’ used yet, but maybe that’s something we can work on. It’s an honor to continue our relationship for these many years, and here’s to many more. ¡Viva los bomberos y las bomberas!”