‘Luckier than a lot of people’: Molalla residents go back


Molalla downgraded to Level 2 evacuations

MOLALLA, Ore. (KOIN) — Melva Whitesel is exhausted, but she’s determined.

“I’m tired,” the Molalla resident told KOIN 6 News. After 5 days of being evacuated to Vancouver when the Riverside Fire erupted, she’s happy to be back home. Now she’s preparing her home so her husband, who is hospitalized, and her mother can return.

Full evacuation map here

Both need oxygen tanks to breathe.

“I’m trying right now to clean off everything so I can bring them, everybody, home because they’re both oxygen-compromised.”

Before fleeing the fire, Whitesel herself was in the hospital. “My legs quit working, and we don’t know why. I had like 36 hours where my legs just wouldn’t move.”

She’s now glad to be back on her feet.

She shared pictures with KOIN 6 News of what the conditions looked like outside her home in the area of Stowers Road when she was forced to leave.

“It’s been very stressful, not knowing what’s going to happen. I had to leave my chickens here and that was very difficult for me because they’re like my pets, but the house is still here. Thank God!” she said. “We’re so much luckier than a lot of other people.”

Down the street, her neighbor Cliff Farrar is cleaning up his cul-de-sac. “We started cleaning things up so the neighbors don’t have to do it,” Farrar said.

Wildfire ash from the Beachie Creek Fire covers this truck in Molalla, September 14, 2020 (KOIN)

He’s also on the lookout for anyone trying to take advantage of his neighbors.

“We’ve been walking up and down here making sure people don’t break into houses and stuff,” he said.

Residents in the area also said they’re concerned about a homeless man names Phil Martel who lives nearby. They said he rides around on a bike that’s loaded with his belongings and want people to be on the lookout for him.

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