Opal Creek icon George Atiyeh missing in Beachie Creek Fire


George Atiyeh fought to block clear-cutting the area around Opal Creek

LYON, Ore. (AP) — A hero of the movement to preserve old growth forests in the Northwest is missing in one of the many wildfires scorching Oregon.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that 72-year-old George Atiyeh hasn’t been seen since the Beachie Creek fire burned down his house near Lyon, southeast of Salem, last week. His daughter, Aniese Mitchell, posted Friday night on Facebook that the family was reporting him as missing.

Atiyeh fought for years in the 1980s to block the U.S. Forest Service from clear-cutting the area around Opal Creek, a pristine area in the Willamette National Forest known for its ancient trees, including a 270-foot tall Douglas fir thought to be 1,000 years old. Federal legislation protecting the area passed in 1996.

The Opal Creek area was hit by the same fire that destroyed Atiyeh’s home, but the extent of the damage there is so far unknown because it remains inaccessible.

His daughter said she last talked to him on Monday night, 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.

Atiyeh is also the nephew of the late Governor Vic Atiyeh, who served from 1979 to 1987.

To report a family member missing, please contact the non-emergency dispatch at 503.588.5032. As of Sunday morning, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they have five people who have been reported as missing.

Complete KOIN Wildfire Coverage

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.

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