‘Kind of panicked’: Santiam Canyon evacuees flee wildfire


'Go Now' orders issued in early hours of Tuesday

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Denise Campbell of Stayton was one of the residents who were ordered to evacuate as a fast moving wildfire roared through Santiam Canyon.

Authorities issued the “Go Now” orders for the area that includes Lyons, Mehama, Detroit, Idanah and Highway 214 north of Silverfalls State Park to Scotts Mills.

Those who evacuated said they saw buildings and churches burning in Gates and Mill City.

“I kind of panicked,” Campbell told KOIN 6 News. “What am I supposed to grab? So I took some clothes, my dog, and some food told my son to get out.”

Michael Kallis of Gates said he saw a fire in Mill City “right when you come in, and it was burning up the hill. You could see the fire hitting the trees and just going for it.”

Some residents said they were scared and hope they’ll have a home to go back to.

These people evacuated from a fast moving wildfire in Santiam Canyon in Marion County to the Oregon State Fairgrounds, September 8, 2020 (KOIN)

More than 600 people already showed up to the evacuation site at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, but officials said they are prepared to take up to 10,000 people.

“Because of COVID we don’t have any events here,” said Kim Grewe-Powell with the Oregon State Fairgrounds. “So all of our buildings are empty and we are able to help. So that is one good thing about COVID. We can help home people, they can use our restrooms, we do have showers. So we’re very willing to help.”

The Oregon State Fairground is also accepting animals and livestock. Anyone wishing to help can contact the county’s volunteer coordinator at volunteer@co.marion.or.us

The Red Cross is working on how to develop shelter for all of the families displaced by this fast-moving wildfire.

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.

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