PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon State fire marshal was placed on leave Saturday and resigned shortly after, as part of a personnel investigation as historic wildfires continue to burn across the state.
Fire Marshal Jim Walker was placed on paid leave, according to the Oregon State Police Superintendent Saturday.
Several hours later, Walker officially resigned from his position and Mariana Ruiz-Temple, who was already appointed acting state fire marshal has been named state fire marshal.
"Mariana has led with grace, transparency and courage," said Gov. Kate Brown. "She embodies the experience Oregon needs to face this crisis, in this moment."
“Mariana is assuming this position as Oregon is in an unprecedented crisis which demands an urgent response. This response and the circumstances necessitated a leadership change,” Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said in a statement.
A state police spokesman would not provide any additional details about why Walker was removed from duty, other than to say it was part of an “internal personnel investigation.”
Ruiz-Temple was serving as the chief deputy fire marshal. She has been one of the public faces of the state’s fire response, appearing via phone at several media briefings this week alongside Gov. Kate Brown.
“I have the absolute confidence in Mariana to lead OSFM operations through this critical time,” Hampton said. “She is tested, trusted and respected – having the rare combination of technical aptitude in field operations and administration.”
The fire marshal’s office isn’t the only agency responding to the dozens of wildfires around the state but does play an important role in coordinating firefighting efforts among different firefighting agencies. The office is also responsible for fire prevention efforts.
Walker has served as a state fire marshal since 2014.