Oregon man surrounded by wildfire survives by lying in river, using chair as shield

An Oregon man survived a raging wildfire that surrounded him on all sides by perching on a rock in a river — and using a plastic chair as a makeshift shield, according to a report.

“Everything around me was on fire,” Don Myron, 56, of Elkhorn Woods told told The Statesman Journal. “That chair helped save my butt.”

Myron got stuck in the rapidly-moving Beachie Creek Fire, near Salem, on Sept. 7 after his escape plan was foiled by a flat tire, the paper reported.

At around 9:45 p.m., flame-engulfed tree branches began falling on his roof and he quickly realized he was trapped in a canyon by downed trees and blazes fueled by 70 mph winds.

“I ran to the end of the driveway, looked down the canyon and both sides of the river were engulfed in flames,” he said. “From there everything went into overdrive.”

In a frantic effort to escape, he grabbed some of his belongings and jumped into his car — but soon ran over scorched tree debris, and got a flat tire. “I couldn’t go any further,” he said.

He then told himself, “Don, you’ve got to pull over and get the hell down to the river and under the bridge.”

On the banks of the waterway, he found a neighbor’s green plastic lawn chair then waded to a rock formation in the middle of the waterway.

To avoid inhaling too much smoke, he put his shirt over his mouth, laid down and spent the night on the rocks, using the chair as a barrier from falling embers.

Remains of a home destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon.
Remains of a home destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon.Reuters

Parts of the fire were out by 7 a.m. the next morning, offering him a path to safety. Within hours, he was saved by a rescue crew and reunited with his son.

“There was no way I could have imagined the fire would have moved so incredibly fast,” Myron told the Statesman Journal. “I had no idea I could be surrounded by an inferno in just no time.”

He added, “Thank God I ended up in a wide spot of the river and away from the banks.”

Myron said he now plans to repay his neighbors for use of their patio furniture.

“I suppose I should get them a new chair,” he told the paper.


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