PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A State of Emergency was declared for Marion County and Oregon’s Emergency Conflagration Act was invoked by the governor as wildfires ripped through the Santiam Canyon area of the county on Tuesday, prompting Level 3 “Go” evacuations for multiple communities.
More Level 3 “Go Now” evacuations were issued shortly after 6 p.m. for the area south of OR 211 between Estacada in Clackamas County and Woodburn in Marion County.
The Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fires were active overnight in Santiam Canyon, prompting Level 3 evacuations for Lyons, Mehama, Detroit, Idanha and Highway 214 north of Silverfalls State Park to Scotts Mills. Meanwhile, Level 2 “Get Set” evacuations are in place for Stayton, Sublimity, Aumsville and Highway 213 west of Mt. Angel in Silverton to Drakes Crossing.
The State of Emergency was declared by the Marion County Board of Commissioners.
“Our sheriff’s deputies and police and fire agencies were heroic and aided hundreds of people last night in the midst of fire. We will continue to work around the clock to protect our communities. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has lost homes or loved ones in this horrible fire,” Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis said in a statement.
According to MCSO, Highway 22 remains closed from Stayton through the Santiam Canyon. If you have to evacuate, MCSO said, you will be allowed to get out of the canyon — but no one will be able to return.
Video from Mill City shows an inferno swallowing buildings along Highway 22.
The various state parks in the county have been evacuated as part of an emergency wildfire closure. Collier State Park was evacuated shortly before 9 p.m. on Monday, while Detroit, Mongold and North Santiam state parks were evacuated as of 2:40 a.m. Tuesday morning. Silver Falls State Park campground was also evacuated as of 5:30 a.m.
MCSO said all residents who have not evacuated need to leave immediately due to the “significant fire danger.”
MCSO says it’s too dangerous for deputies to go door to door to notify families — and they are begging people to leave their homes if they live in these areas.
“The extreme fire activity in the area poses an imminent danger to anyone who chooses to remain in the evacuated area. Our deputies are committed to helping keep our community safe; however, conditions have become too dangerous for them to continue with evacuation efforts at this time,” Sheriff Joe Kask said. “I encourage anyone still in the Santiam Canyon to leave immediately following the deputies out of the area. I cannot say when the conditions will allow deputies and other emergency responders to return to the area to render assistance. Please leave now.”
People say it was a rush to get out. Some residents told KOIN 6 they’re scared — hoping they’ll have a home to go back to.
“We’re worried about our house because it’s down by O’Neil Park,” in Lyons, Doug Masterson said. Masterson, his wife Glenis and their dog Dolly managed to get out of the evacuation zone around 6 a.m., and were sheltering at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem Tuesday night; officials said the facility is prepared to shelter up to 10,000 people.
“Because of covid, we don’t have any events here — so all of our buildings are empty and we are able to help,” Kim Grewe-Powell of Oregon State Fairgrounds said. “We can help home people, they can use our restrooms, we do have showers. We’re very willing to help.”
Sue and Stuart Hurst also left their Lyons home early Tuesday morning, and said they were parked at the fairgrounds for more than 16 hours waiting while the American Red Cross helped them get a motel room.
Meanwhile, Joyce Jackson said she didn’t leave her home in Silverton until Tuesday afternoon, but had thoroughly packed her car with her belongings. “Our medicine, our clothes, you know, things that we need,” she said.
However, her late arrival at the fairgrounds meant she was still waiting by 9 p.m. to find out where she would stay Tuesday night, along with many others there.
The fairgrounds are also providing shelter for livestock and pets. By Tuesday afternoon, many stalls were filled with evacuated horses. Those wishing to help people affected by the fires can contact the county’s volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
A second emergency evacuation center is set up at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds at Southeast Airport Way in Redmond as well. Call the Marion County Emergency Management information line at 503.391.7294 with any questions.
KOIN 6 News will continue to update this story.