CAMAS, Wash. (KOIN) — The residents of nearly 3000 homes near Larch Mountain were ordered to evacuate Sunday when the Nakia Creek Fire grew rapidly after strong winds and unseasonably warm temperatures. A total of between 35,000 and 40,000 homes were under the combined evacuation levels from the fire, officials said.
Sharon Steriti with the Washington Department of Natural Resources said she’s never seen anything like this. “I’ve been doing wildland firefighting for 25-some years and we do have some dry Octobers and some east winds, but I haven’t seen conditions like this in my tenure.”
Evacuation shelters were set up quickly by the Red Cross at the Camas Church of the Nazarene. The shelter is equipped for overnight stays and is allowing pets. But the Red Cross wants people to bring their own kennel and pet supplies.
Those spending the night at the Camas Church of the Nazarene are grateful they have a place to sleep. But after being forced to leave everything when the fire began spreading, many are now worried about what they’ll find back home.
One evacuee, Carrie, said her family had only a few moments to gather what they could after they received the “Go Now” alerts on their phones.
“To live on this mountain and to be told there’s fire coming, it’s like fight or flight. I think we just were like, ‘OK, let’s go,'” Carrie said.
She is grateful her family is safe. But having to decide what to take in a moment’s notice can be incredibly difficult.
“My mother passed away a couple months ago. So, there’s a lot of things in the home that I really wouldn’t even know what to take,” she said. “I just took pictures, photo albums, death certificates, my parents’ ashes, the dogs, and my kids. And that’s pretty much what we got.”
School was canceled on Monday for the Washougal School District as well as the Mount Pleasant School.
Those who need shelter for livestock should call 360.607.2535 for assistance. The Clark County Fairgrounds are already full. The Port of Camas-Washougal opened their overflow parking lot for temporary parking/overnight camping.