Crews continue battle against Powerline, Chehalem fires

Washington County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After evacuation orders forced residents to flee their homes in droves, fire crews continue to battle the two separate wildfires raging in Washington County.

Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue said the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire south of Midway was 50% contained as of Wednesday evening — but grew to 2,000 acres by Thursday morning. Up to 200 firefighters are out battling the blaze for the day after crews worked through the night to maintain containment lines.

Three barns had burned but no homes had been lost by Thursday afternoon. No residents or animals have been injured.

An aircraft was helping with water drops up until nightfall and no additional evacuation notices have been issued — but every previous evacuation notice remains in place.

The Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire forced hundreds to evacuate in Washington County. Firefighters told this man they probably would not be able to save his son’s house,, September 9, 2020 (KOIN)

Level 3 evacuations have been issued for the following:

  • SW Weaver Drive
  • SW Wildfire Drive
  • NE Brooks Lane
  • NE Jaquith Lane
  • NE Ellis Lane
  • NE Mountain Top Road
  • NE Bald Peak Road
  • NE McCormick Road
  • NE Bryan Creek
  • NE Quarter Mile Lane
  • NE Chehalem Drive
  • NE Hillside Drive
  • SW Buckhaven Road north to SW McCormick Hill Road up to Vanderschuere Road
  • East of SW Neugebauer Road to Hwy 219 between SW Jaquith Rd to SW Vanderschuere Rd
  • SW Herd Lane
  • SW Hideaway Lane
  • SW Forest Park Road
  • SW Strawberry Hill Drive
  • SW Fernhollow
  • SW Bryanna Court
  • SW Wildhaven Lane

At least 150 people have been evacuated in that area as the fire burns about 2,000 acres of private land, timber, pasture and fields. Other homeowners along Highway 219-Hillsboro Highway were waiting to see what happens with the nearby fire. TVF&R said no one has been injured and no homes had burned as of 5:15 p.m.

But Brian Inman, who was checking on his son’s home, said “They told me they won’t be able to save my son’s house. They are out of manpower and water.”

Some people are reportedly attempting to return to their homes — please stay away until further notice.

According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, power remains shut off for the safety of firefighters. There is no estimated time for power restoration at this time.

A staging site for evacuees is located at:

  • Mountainside High School, 12500 SW 175th Ave, Beaverton

Comfort centers — which are not full shelters but have air conditioning, food, water and showers — can be found at:

  • NW Christian Church, 2315 Villa Road, Newberg
  • Northside Community Church, 1800 N Hoskin, Newberg
  • Red Hills Church, 115 N Third St., Newberg

Animal Shelters are available at:

  • Yamhill County Fairgrounds
    2070 NE Lafayette Ave, McMinnville, OR 97128
    Contact: Lacey, 503-341-4572 (to make arrangements)
  • Washington County Fairgrounds
    802 NE 28th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR 97124
    Contact: 503-314-3433 (call in advance, so they can prepare for your arrival)
    RV Spots and campsites available. Washington County Sheriff’s Posse can care for animals overnight, but owners must provide daily care.
People fled the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire in Washington County, September 9, 2020 (KOIN)

TVF&R Chief Cassandra Ulven says although the fire is not under control, crews feel as if they have the upper hand. Three barns have burned.

Chief Ulven also said 911 is getting flooded with calls from people in Washington County reporting smoke and an orange glow. She’s asking people to only call 911 if they see flames — otherwise, it backlogs their emergency system.

Powerline Fire

On Thursday afternoon, deputies returned Cherry Grove to Level 2. Lee, Dundee, Herring and Cascara remained at Level 3 until further notice. Patton Valley Road was the only road open for traffic. Scoggins Valley and Hagg Lake remain closed.

Earlier Thursday morning, officials gave an update on their efforts to contain the Powerline Fire in Washington County, which was then estimated at 175 acres. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, no structures have been lost — however, the homes on Dundee Road and Herring Road were still under a “direct threat.” There will be about 100 fire personnel battling the fire for the day.

WCSO says fire operations will continue in the area for several days and crews will be scaled back as conditions allow.

Earlier in the week, Level 3 “Go Now” evacuations were ordered for the entire community of Cherry Grove near Hagg Lake as the fire reached 50 acres. The fire, originally dubbed the Stimson Mainline Fire, began early Tuesday morning in the hills south of the Hagg Lake dam near Gaston. Officials said it sparked from a downed power line.

Cherry Grove residents were under a Level 1 “Get Ready” order Tuesday morning but constant strong winds fanned the fire and residents were suddenly told to leave immediately. Many people in the area had livestock to save, complicating their efforts to evacuate. A KOIN 6 News crew watched trailer after trailer full of animals leaving the area.

Hagg Lake is officially closed, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Boat access and park use have been prohibited.

Crews fighting the fire near Hagg Lake were reinforced with firefighters from Clatsop County: from Nehalem Bay to Astoria to Gearhart.

Around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office tweeted, “Two single-engine seaplane type water bombers are en route to the (Power Line) fire. This will help immensely, as they can drop 600 gallons per trip, and refill directly from the lake.”

Smoke from the Powerline Fire in Washington County, Sept. 9, 2020. (Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

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