BEND, Ore. - The federal government shutdown is now affecting people in Central Oregon who depend on cutting their own firewood. There are no permits in the Bend area, and there are little to no signs of when more will become available.
The Forest Service is not answering their phones, because they are all on furlough, so stores that sell permits like Bi-Mart and the Butler Market can't purchase more. Individuals who buy through the Forest Service are also out of luck -- and possibly out of heat soon.
"Yeah, I have an elderly father, and primarily our heat source is wood," Jerry Morris, a Bend resident, said Friday.
Morris said he can't afford firewood without the permit. Fortunately, he bought two Thursday from Bi-Mart. He bought them right in the nick of time, because stores were sold out by Thursday night.
"We sold out yesterday in the evening," said Jassey Uppal, owner of the Butler Market.
Morris' two permits will allow him about two cords of wood. He said he uses about six or seven -- and even then, he is scraping by in the winter.
Many people are in the same boat as Morris, so they were scrambling Thursday to buy what they needed.
"Since they (the government) closed, it's been non-stop all day," Uppal said.
"Somebody probably got wind of the Forest Service and government not being there and went out and bought every permit they could find," Morris said.
The Butler Market sold out of their 500 permits in just 11 days.
With the clock ticking on firewood cutting services, it's no wonder people are scrambling.
"I just hope this thing doesn't go on a long time, because if it does, we're in a mess," Morris said.
Morris joked that he might not have many options if the government doesn't come back soon.
"Without firewood, we'll be burning furniture," he said.
Which is no laughing matter.
"I hope it's not a real cold winter," he said, "because we're going to be in trouble."