‘It was raining fire’: Eyewitnesses to Beachie Creek Fire


Residents of Lyons, Gates share stories of fleeing, loss

MEHAMA, Ore. (KOIN) — When high winds fueled the relatively small Beachie Creek Fire into an inferno on Labor Day. mandatory evacuations were issued to many people, including Tami Llewellyn.

“Believe it when they say you should get ready,” said Llewellyn, who lived in Lyons. “We thought we’d be back in a day. I didn’t think we would never be able to go back.”

Tami Llewellyn of Lyons lost her house when the Beachie Creek Fire roared through, September 13, 2020 (KOIN)

She lost her home. “Every house on our street has been destroyed,” she said. “It wasn’t like a wall of fire. It was raining fire.”

Ray Myrick, who is a maintenance host at Fishbend Campground, said his motor home burned. He wanted to go back and get a few things that belonged to his wife, who died about 18 months ago.

Glen Winters of Gates said the whole town was in flames from the Beachie Creek Fire, September 13, 2020 (KOIN)

Glen Winters, who lived in Gates, said he “wasn’t able to go see what’s left of my place. My daughter and I left on Monday and in a couple hours the entire town was engulfed in flames.”

A few miles west of Lyons and Gates is Mehama, the final checkpoint for families trying to visit their homes. But officials said it’s simply too dangerous to go any further.

Complete KOIN Wildfire Coverage

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office told KOIN 6 News some people are refusing to leave their homes in Level 3 “Go Now” evacuation areas. Both law enforcement and residents who lost their homes are pleading for those people to pack up and leave immediately.

Officials said they do have the authority to arrest someone if they refuse to evacuate but taking someone into custody is a last resort.

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