ESTACADA, Ore. (KOIN) — Though hundred of homes remain under a Level 3 “Go Now!” evacuation order from the Milo McIver State Park Fire, some evacuation levels have been downgraded and some people forced to leave their homes were allowed to return Saturday night.
While that is a relief for most families, Estacada Fire officials confirmed one home and one barn were destroyed in this 25-acre blaze. Officials said no residents were injured but one firefighter suffered a medical emergency while on duty and was taken to a nearby hospital.
Officials said the fire is contained but the fierce winds could change that. The Oregon Department of Forestry is now leading the fight.
“The fire moved very rapidly as a result of the influences of the terrain and the wind with the urban interface environment that a lot of these homes are situated in,” said Scappoose Fire District Chief Jeff Pricher. “It always makes it challenging for firefighters.”
At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Izak Hamilton, PIO for Clackamas Fire, said there is a high likelihood the fire will still grow due to the high winds.
Evacuation levels were updated and reduced at 6:20 p.m. Saturday, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office tweeted.
Level 3 evacuation orders previously were in place for the following locations: Feldheimer area to Hayden Road and Springwater Road to the Clackamas River, including Woodland Way and Parkview Lane east of the park, and then from the Clackamas River, Fellows and Mattoon on the West, South of Fischers Mill to Metzler Park.
There were also previously Level 2 “Get Set” evacuation orders for: South of Fischers Mill, North of Upper Highland, East of Redland and Ridge Road and West of Mattoon and Fellows Road in Estacada.
Pricher said the alerts are critical to keeping both fire crews and the community safe.
“The reason we do that is safety for the people, safety for the firefighters. It gives us the ability to operate in an environment where we’re not competing with the people who are trying to leave,” he told KOIN 6 News.
Cody Bivins-Starr, one of the hundreds forced from their homes, said he was “pretty exhausted. I haven’t slept.” He told KOIN 6 News they “packed everything up and spent a few hours in a Home Depot parking lot and then” went to a Red Cross shelter.
They could see the fire from their house and the waiting to find out if their house survived is excruciating.
“All the uncertainty is a little hard,” he said.
Firefighters said the high winds are the main concern. Hamilton said the winds “are making this battle harder. If they weren’t here we wouldn’t need to be here.”
Kimberly Webb with Clackamas County said “This is a pretty extreme wind.” She asked people not to call 911 unless it’s an actual emergency.
Officials ordered air support in case the fire jumps the containment, which is possible because of the high winds.
Crews from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon State Fire Marshal and Portland Fire & Rescue assisted Clackamas crews with the firefight. More resources from Columbia and Clatsop counties, along with 6 more engines from the Oregon Department of Forestry, are expected to come in to help with the task force.
Crews are doing their best to keep the fire from spreading and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office has deputies on standby to help evacutate more homes if necessary.
At the Red Cross shelter, volunteers are busy helping about two dozen evacuees. They will stay open as long as people need them. With many more people on evacuation standby, Red Cross officials hope people are prepared with important documents and medications in the Go Bags.
“Be ready to move at a moment’s notice,” said Red Cross volunteer Roman Perez. “Don’t hesitate. Just go.”
No injuries have been reported at this time.