Beachie Creek Fire 38% contained, more evacuations lowered

Wildfires

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As a stretch of Highway 22 in Marion County reopens on Monday morning, more evacuation levels have been lowered for the area.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office announced the five-mile section of Highway 22 from North Fork Road to Mill City, North Fork Road to Pioneer Road, including Kubin Road SE and Pioneer Road SE to Hwy 22, including Hudel Road SE and Taylor Park Road have all been downgraded from Level 3 to Level 2 evacuations.

Meanwhile, the section of Highway 22 from Lyons east to Gates is set to reopen to traffic. The blockade at North fork Road in Lyons will come down — letting people travel east to Gates Hill Road.

Highway 22 East will stay closed beyond that point, all the way to the Santiam Pass. North Fork Road, Pioneer Road East and Gates Hill Road will also stay closed because of hazardous conditions.

The highway is cluttered with blackened and downed trees, smoldering stumps, piles of ash and the remains of many burned up homes. It is a stark new landscape seared by fire — not all of it burned, but much of it scorched. The view from the Santiam Highway will never be the same.

Current Evacuations

Level 3 – “Go”

  • Detroit
  • Idanha
  • Breitenbush
  • North Fork Road
  • Pioneer Road and other roadways in this corridor

Level 2 – “Be Set”

  • Lyons
  • Mehama
  • Mill City
  • Gates
  • Fernridge Road west of Shellburg Creek Rd to Basil Hill
  • Crooked Finger Road & Moss Lane
  • Highway 22 at North Fork Road east to Mile Post 29
  • Wagner Road
  • Wagner Lane
  • Teeters Road
  • Gopher Lane
  • Jennie Road south of Hwy 22

Level 1 – “Ready”

  • Scotts Mills
  • Areas east of Meridian Road, Davis Creek, and Victor Point south to the Marion County line

Beachie Creek Fire

Containment of the Beachie Creek Fire burning in Marion County improved to 38% on Monday morning, according to officials.

Five additional engines, another hot shot squad and crews from Canada assisted firefighting efforts Sunday.

Six helicopters and a single engine craft assigned to the fire have been able to fly thanks to the improved visibility in the region. The forecast for Monday calls for dryer air, warmer temperatures, and lower humidity — meaning residents may see smoldering fire, potential torching, and smoke from the interior of the fire’s footprint, according to fire officials.

“As residents of Mill City and Gates return, they should know that there are several places inside of the fire, called green islands, that did not initially burn,” officials said in a release Sunday. “The rain did not put out the fire, and it is still slowly smoldering, consuming those green islands. That activity is well inside of the fire containment lines, and first responders are aware and working the scene.” 

The continuing objective will be putting firefighters directly on the fire lines and reinforcing those containment lines, contingency lines, and monitoring any hot spots to protect Marion and Clackamas Counties — especially on the Western edge, including Greg’s Corner, Silver Falls State Park, and to the north, Corbet’s Corner.

More than 250 Canadian emergency personnel have joined the battles in the region; half have been specifically assigned to the Beachie Creek fire. Officials said the reinforcements will build fire line along State Route 22 between Stayton and Detroit.

Currently 1,118 structures are at Level 3 evacuations and another 4,574 are in level 2 evacuations in Marion County.

“As more residents are allowed back into the area, it is imperative that everyone heeds road closures and safety messages,” officials said. “Anyone who enters the fire perimeter jeopardizes firefighting operations and puts lives at risk.” 

The Beachie Creek fire has torched 192,736 acres since August 16.

Lionshead Fire

Much like Beachie Breek, the growth of the Lionshead Fire was anticipated to be “minimal” over the weekend, according to fire officials.

Efforts to further contain the lightening-caused blaze–which has scorched 199,022 acres of land–will include work done by members of the National Guard arriving this week.

As of Monday, the Lionshead Fire is now at 13% containment.

Human remains found on property of George Atiyeh, missing in wildfire

Human remains were found on the property of missing man, George Atiyeh, in the North Fork Road area on Thursday, said Marion County authorities.

Officials have not confirmed the identity of the body. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they are awaiting the final report from the medical examiner. The remains mark the fifth fatality attributed to wildfires in Marion County.

Atiyeh has been missing since the Beachie Creek fire burned down his house near Lyon, southeast of Salem, more than a week ago. His daughter said she last talked to him on Monday night, Sept. 7, and that he was determined to stay because he didn’t believe he was in danger. She said search parties had been looking for him.

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