Gusty winds fan flames, prompt evacuations, as smoke blankets the region

Flames continue to rage in Oregon and southwest Washington, and smoke hangs in the air over much of the area.

Communities in various corners of Oregon, from Estacada to Oakridge, have been ordered to evacuate or are told to be prepared if the situation worsens, as strong winds spread existing flames and new fires take hold. Meanwhile, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power have shut down power to nearly 50,000 Oregon homes and businesses in the region due to strong winds in an effort to keep power lines from fresh wildfires. And many roads and parks are closed across the state and in southwest Washington. Here’s the latest wildfire developments across the state.

Wildfires continue to threaten communities in Lane County

The entire city of Oakridge in Lane County is under Level 3 “Go Now” clearance due to the Cedar Creek Fire.

On Friday, strong winds pushed the fires toward the residential communities of Oakridge, Wayfir and High Prairie. More than 3,200 people live in the area. Officials told them to evacuate immediately and move west away from the fire.

Strong winds and low humidity continued to fuel the fire on Saturday, according to Cedar Creek Fire spokesman Bud Sexton.

“Actually, this is excessive fire behavior today,” Sexton said. “It’s definitely increased.”

Sexton said the heat of the fire is drying out the grass and other fire fuel before the flames reach the area, making the situation worse. Sexton said weather conditions were expected to return to normal on Sunday, but officials did not yet know when people could return home.

A temporary evacuation point is stationed at Lane Community College and the Lane Events Center in Eugene. More updated information can be found on the Lane County website.

Brown enacted an Emergency Fire Extinguishing Act in response to fires to make more firefighting resources available to local agencies.

The fire was caused by lightning in early August, but strong winds were spreading it rapidly toward residential areas.

A helicopter carries water on a long line to a wildfire near Salem, Ore., at sunset Friday, September 9, 2022. As of Saturday morning, skies over much of western Oregon were tinged with a pinkish-yellow haze caused by a heavy blanket. smoke.

Andrew Selsky / AP

Evacuation ordered near Milo MacIver State Park in Estacada

A fire broke out Friday night near Estacada’s Milo MacIver State Park, prompting an evacuation order for nearby residents, as strong winds fanned flames across the state.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office announced a Level 3, or “Go Now,” evacuation late Friday, and the Red Cross set up a shelter at Clackamas Community College. Two more shelters were also built, one for people with livestock at Mollala Buckaroo at 815 Shirley Street in Mollala and another for people with RVs at Bohlander Park in Mollala. Officials have warned that there are no RV hookups in the park.

Another evacuation order, a Level 2 – “B set” – came early Saturday for residents of Ridge Road, west of Matoon and Fellows Road in Estacada, south of Fisher Mill, north of Upper Highland, east of Redland and Ridge Road.

Public safety officials have warned that all residents in the area should be prepared for a possible power outage to prevent winds from knocking down power lines and causing new fires.

Smoke now covers most of western Oregon, including the Portland area

People in much of western Oregon and southwest Washington woke up to gray and orange skies on Saturday morning as moving winds blew wildfire smoke into previously unaffected areas.

Most of the smoke in the Portland area came from the Cedar Creek Fire, which was burning 51,000 acres Saturday morning and contained only 12%, and new fires near Milo MacIver State Park.

And wind conditions remain hazardous over most of northeast and southwest Oregon. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended its air quality advisory on Saturday for Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Eastern Lane, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties. Malheur County was also added to the list of counties under air quality warnings.

Although weather conditions are expected to improve on Sunday, the air quality warning will remain in place until at least Monday. Those who are particularly vulnerable include older Oregonians, young children, pregnant people, and anyone with heart or lung diseases.

An advisory for Coos County expired on Saturday.

Be alert for closures related to wildfire

Roads and parks have been closed in many parts of Oregon and southwest Washington due to wildfires and firefighting efforts.

Between road closures, Oregon 58 is closed from Mile Point 13.2, at Lowell Bridge, to Milepost 70, on Crescent Lake.

For an up-to-date map of closures and delays, check out TripCheck.com or call 511. Drivers should also be prepared for stoplights that have been turned off as part of preventive power outages. In Oregon, traffic lights without electricity must be treated as a four-way stop.

PacificCorp has closed access to its Yale and Swift area properties in the southwest Washington Lewis River Basin, including the Yale Day Use Area and Swift Campground, because of a fire risk. Beaver Bay Campground, Cougar Campground and Saddle Dam Day Use recreation sites were closed for the season on September 5.

Anyone planning a weekend hike or camping should check the conditions before leaving home.

More power cuts continue as dangerous situation

As of Saturday morning, Portland General Electric had shut off power to 37,000 homes and businesses.

This includes new outages to reduce fire hazards at Southwest Scots Mills, South Mollah, George, Colton and Sandy.

Public safety power shut down Friday morning for Pacific Power and Portland General Electric customers in high fire risk areas. In rural areas prone to strong winds, there was a power outage for the first time. A complete list of PGE shutoffs is available here.

So far, Pacific Power has discontinued service for approximately 12,000 customers. Its complete list is available here.

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