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May 26, 2024

Talent Historical Society to present photo exhibit, new book on Almeda Fire

A photo of the Almeda Fire from the new book “Talent, Oregon: The Almeda Fire.”
April 18, 2023

Open house event on April 29 will focus on residents’ experiences of 2020 disaster

By Matt Witt

Residents’ experiences during the Almeda Fire are the subject of a new bilingual book and photo exhibit produced by the Talent Historical Society which will be unveiled during an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Talent Historical Society Museum, 105 N. Market St., Talent.

Display cases at the Talent History Museum.

The book, “Talent, Oregon: The Almeda Fire,” contains numerous articles, interviews, photos, work by local artists and poems on the September 2020 disaster that destroyed thousands of structures and left three people dead. The collection, which covers a wide range of emotions, including heartbreak, resilience, anger, and hope, includes written material in both English and Spanish.

Talent Historical Society board members met shortly after the fire. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We have to document this fire’,” said Debra Moon, the society’s outreach and volunteer coordinator. “We voted unanimously to adopt the task of recording the personal stories of the Almeda Fire, its effects on our community, and the community response.”

Talent Elementary School second graders contributed some stories to the book, and a Talent Middle School class conducted interviews with town residents. One section of the book deals with relief efforts taken on by the Rogue Action Center, Rogue Climate and Talent Maker City. Another section focuses on the impact to local businesses, and another includes viewpoints from first responders.

Additional stories are available online at talenttowninflames.blogspot.com.

“We know that we didn’t get all the important stories,” a statement from the Talent Historical Society reads. “Unfortunately, those who were hit hardest found it hardest to tell their story, and we don’t have many from them. We acknowledge their loss and their struggle.”

Free historic tours of downtown Talent will also be available during the open house. The tours will run between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the release said.

Matt Witt is a writer and photographer living in Talent.

The cover of “Talent, Oregon: The Almeda Fire,” a compilation of 71 articles, interviews and poems.
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