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SPS opens doors to responders in the midst of natural disaster

Springfield Public Schools opens doors to emergency responders, provides shelter in midst of natural disaster 
"We are public servants, this is what we do"

Springfield Public Schools strongly believes that it is our duty to serve the public in any way possible, so when opportunities arise to jump in and help – SPS aims to be that community partner and to provide any and every resource we can.

While this last week has been chaotic, we wanted to share a bit about the incredible efforts of our community and how it has rallied together to provide love and support to those who need it most. We know that this year has thrown us all for a loop, but it’s also taught us a valuable lesson over and over and that is: we can accomplish anything that comes our way if we do it together.

The first signs
Monday afternoon was the first real sign of intense fire weather. An emergency alert popped up on the screen of phones across the region warning of intense winds and the potential for explosive fires.

And then it happened.

With the help of strong winds, fires across the state grew exponentially Monday night – Labor Day – and the Springfield area woke to news of severe damage and destruction to a series of small towns and homes along Highway 126 and the McKenzie River – our own backyard.

The Holiday Farm Fire has burned more than 161,000 acres since it ignited Monday night. Hundreds of Lane County residents have been displaced by the fire – likely many of whom have lost their homes to the flames that ripped through the area. They are our people - our students, our families, our staff, friends and loved ones. 

The response
On Monday night, emergency crews and organizations worked closely with SPS staff to access Walterville Elementary, SPS owned Bob Artz Memorial Park and Thurston Middle School as a location for crews, equipment and a home base for firefighters to rest in between long shifts.

Without a second thought in the middle of the night, when Thurston High School was deemed the best location to shelter those evacuated from up river, SPS staff responded and have been on-site to assist those in need and ensure that people utilizing the space have what they need.

When the fire was upgraded Tuesday and became more of a serious threat to the Thurston area, SPS staff with the help of emergency management crews, county officials and local organizations agreed that Springfield High School and Silke Field would be the next best place to connect with our neighbors and friends.

Since then, the community has rallied to provide an overwhelming amount of supplies, food, clothing, medication and other essential needs and has organically grown to a completely volunteer-supported effort. SPS is proud to be a resource in this time of immense needs
Currently more than 780 firefighters have set up camp at SPS school location

  • Thurston Middle School has been transformed into an incident command center
  • Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Fire Marshals have also set up space within or just outside of our schools.
  • United States FEMA representatives will arrived in the area Saturday and are utilizing SPS facilities to provide emergency response efforts for the Holiday Farm Fire
  • SPS facilities have been used to hold press conferences and spaces for media to meet with fire, volunteer and district officials
  • SPS Nutrition Services staff provided hot and nutritious meals to crews until catering services could be established
While the road ahead is long and sit slightly unclear, what we know to be true is the heart of what makes SPS an exceptional community focused team is how we come together to support one another. We are SPS, and together we are Springfield Strong.