2 ‘rapidly growing and changing’ fires set to merge near Molalla

Wildfires

Level 3 evacuations cover large swath of Clackamas County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Clackamas County officials are warning of “severe and extreme fire behavior” and urged all county residents to be prepared to evacuate even if they are currently in Level 1.

Many places in the county are under Level 3 “Go Now” including the cities of Estacada and Molalla.

The extreme fire conditions are fueled by winds, which are pushing the Riverside and the Beachie Creek Fire in Marion County together. Mt Hood National Forest officials estimated the Riverside Fire had burned 125,000 acres by about 9 p.m.

“The fire conditions in Oregon and Washington are probably the most extreme we have ever seen in our lifetime,” Oregon Fire Marshal’s Lance Lighty said Thursday afternoon during a press conference in Clackamas County.

Clockwise, left to right: The Riverside Fire, the White River Fire, the P-515 Fire, the Lionshead Fire and the Beachie Creek Fire in a map from Inciweb, 3:45 p.m., September 10, 2020

Clackamas fire officials announced Level 3 evacuation orders for Molalla just before 1 p.m. Thursday; the evacuation orders also include west to Highway 213 in the Molalla area and north to Henrici Road.

Residents of Canby, Sandy and Oregon City have also been put on alert with Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation orders. Officials encouraged Sandy residents to consider evacuating to ease potential congestion if the town goes to Level 3.

“We really need folks to evacuate when we say so,” Sheriff Craig Roberts said. During a Thursday afternoon press conference, he thanked firefighters for their hard work.

Roberts said extra patrols are in place to deter looters.

“We are working diligently while your houses are empty that extra patrols are filling those needs.”

Deputies also imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday.

“No persons other than those working in life- and property-saving activities (or civilian employees at night-shift jobs) may be upon the streets or public places,” said CCSO. “The curfew does not apply to first responders and community members working to relocate during the wildfire evacuations.”

“We are expecting severe and extreme fire behavior…rapidly growing and changing fire conditions,” a fire marshal said at the press conference said.

The Clackamas County Fairgrounds now falls under a Level 2 evacuation as of 2:30 p.m. Livestock and other animals previously taken to the fairgrounds are now being moved.

If you are in Level 1 or Level 2, officials encourage you to prepare. The current evacuation sites that still have room are the Clackamas Town Center (for RVs) and Oregon Convention Center.

Firefighters from Clackamas Fire are being pulled from some spots to ensure safety.

Full evacuation map here

Authorities expanded the Level 3 evacuation area at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to include all of Eaden Road and west to S Harding Road, as well as a small area west of Beavercreek Road which includes all of S Gard Road and Unger Road to the first part of Windy City.

The entire city of Estacada was ordered to evacuate around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday as first responders struggled to control several wildfires in the area, including the large Riverside Fire.

The human-caused Riverside Fire, burning southeast of Estacada, had jumped to 120,000 acres and remains at 0% containment as of Thursday morning, according to Mt Hood National Forest officials. An estimated 230 structures, including 16 homes, have burned. Even more were threatened.

Clackamas County officials said the other fires which started at various times Sunday afternoon and into the night were burning a combined 3,550 acres.

Full list of Clackamas County check-in sites

Latest map from Clackamas County authorities

The Unger Road Fire has burned 200 structures, including five houses southeast of Hwy 211. Four structures, including one house had burned west of Hwy 211.

In Molalla, the Willhoit Fire has destroyed two structures, one of which was a house. Officials estimated it was between 10-15% contained by 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Twelve structures have been lost, including six homes, to the Dowty Road Fire. It’s also estimated at 10-15% containment.

The Spangler Road Fire — which started within the last 24 hours at Hwy 213 — had burned 10 acres, two structures (including one house) and was under control by 8 p.m. Wednesday

Wildfire information from the State of Oregon

A new fire started on Elk Rock Island near Milwaukie in Clackamas County on Wednesday night was quickly contained. Firefighters were mopping up around 9 p.m. — less than an hour after responding to the scene. The fire caught in the trees and burned about half an acre. No evacuations were ordered.

One evacuation site is set up at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, and officials set up other check-in sites around the county. A wildfire information line is open for Oregon City residents: 971.204.0426.

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