Santiam Fire on September 9, 2020.

Oregon state fire marshall resigns as wildfires continue to rage

The Oregon State Police announced on Saturday that State Fire Marshall Jim Walker has resigned. He had been put on paid administrative leave earlier in the day.


The state police did not give a reason for Walker's resignation, however, Oregon Live reports that a source familiar with the situation said "Superintendent Travis Hampton had lost confidence and trust in Walker’s ability to manage the historic wildfires.

According to the source, Walker had already allegedly handed over daily management of the crisis to his chief deputy, Mariana Ruiz-Temple. Ruiz-Temple was appointed the acting fire marshal while Walker was on leave. She has since been appointed as fire marshal.

"Mariana is assuming this position as Oregon is in an unprecedented crisis which demands an urgent response," Hampton said in a press release. "This response and the circumstances necessitated a leadership change. I have the absolute confidence in Mariana to lead OSFM operations through this critical time."

“Mariana has led with grace, transparency and courage,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “She embodies the experience Oregon needs to face this crisis, in this moment.”

Oregon wildfire situation is dire

The numbers are staggering, there is no other way to say this. There are some 94 major fires burning on the West Coast - including 25 in California, 16 in Washington, 13 in Oregon and 10 in Idaho. As of Sunday, these fires have killed 33 people and burned 4.6 million acres (1.9 million hectares).

In Oregon alone, wildfires have scorched more than 1 million acres throughout the state, from the southern border to the coast and Clackamas County. This figure is two-times the yearly average over the past 10 years.

In Oregon, 40,000 people have evacuated, and at least 500,000, or more than 10 percent of Oregon's total population, are under an evacuation alert. There are still literally dozens of people missing and Oregon's emergency management director, Andrew Phelps told reporters on Friday that the state is preparing for a "mass fatality incident."