From the Jackson County, Oregon, Sheriff’s Office, August 16, 2022:
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating the theft of Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) equipment stolen from a lookout tower in the Prospect area (map). Two men broke into the tower on Sunday afternoon August 14, 2022 around 12:45. The thieves stole batteries and solar panels used to power the lookout tower’s fire detection camera. With these items stolen, the camera is no longer operational, leaving a hole in the camera network and taking away the opportunity for early fire detection.
The ODF Southwest Oregon Detection Center is a system of cameras across Jackson and Josephine counties used to monitor rural areas in an effort to catch fires at a small size, provide critical fire information to firefighters responding to active incidents, and allow the department to use resources more strategically. This particular tower enables early fire detection for the northeastern portion of Jackson County near Prospect. ODF is currently working as quickly as possible to get the camera system back up and running. The list of items stolen includes batteries and solar panels to power the cameras.
If you can identify the subjects in the video and photos or have any information about the theft please call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case # 22-4725.
There is also a video on Facebook showing two people climbing the stairs to the lookout.
“As soon as we found out, we started re-ordering all of the batteries, solar panels and specialty pieces that make this system run, but the bad news is a lot of these things are hard to come by and shipping can take some time,” said the Oregon DOF. “Getting the site back up and running is one of our top priorities, but in the meantime, we have firefighters out patrolling the area to make sure we’re still finding fires quickly and keeping them small.”
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.