PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown toured the Clackamas County wildfires area Monday both on the ground and in the air to get a better look at the devastation.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking the amount of timber that we’ve lost,” Brown said Monday. “It could keep the mills going for the next 40 years. It’s going to be a real challenge to recover from this.”
The fires continue to burn, and the heat and winds aren’t helping. But there is help on the way for those who lost their homes and businesses.
To date, 53 homes in the Estacada and Molalla area were destroyed in the wildfires. Hundreds of people left with nothing to return to other than land — and many said they will rebuild. Another 150 other structures such as barns, workshops and other outbuildings were also destroyed.
That number will climb once state and county officials can get a full aerial look at the fire zone.
Laura Frazey of Estacada told KOIN 6 News on Monday said she had just minutes to leave her home with her husband and 2 children as the fire bore down on their house. They lost the manufactured home they were living in — but the fire missed the home they were building on the property.
She is urging government leaders to work to find families who are now living out of the area to connect them with help.
“Think outside the box because it’s like you’re in shock and you don’t know how to process things, how to think, who to call, what to do, what are my options, what are the resources out there,” Frazey said.
A GoFundMe account was set up to help the Frazeys through this time
FEMA is set up in Molalla for people to file for federal aid. They’re set up at the Molalla School District Community Gym from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Winds that may gust to 45 mph are forecast in the area of the Riverside Fire, which will create “creeping and smoldering fire activity,” but any significant growth of the fire is not expected, fire officials said.
East winds will bring more smoke to the area and elevations above 2000 feet will dry more quickly.
The Riverside Fire is 138,029 acres and is 37% contained.
The Lionshead Fire is the largest wildfire burning in Oregon at 204,340 acres, with 34% containment. Winds could be a factor in the battle on Monday, with speeds of 20-25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph. Fire activity is expected to increase and crews are positioned to handle flareups and spot fires, officials said.
The fire was attacked by air on Sunday and will be used again on Monday, authorities said.
Fire managers are coordinating with crews on the Riverside Fire to make contingency lines on the north and along the power line corridor.
Officials said the warmer and drier weather plus the wind direction may push smoke into the western edge of the Beachie Creek Fire, “but the fire is not growing.”
The fire — 192,843 acres and 58% contained — may get some oxygen Monday which will produce more smoke. But officials said the “fuels are too wet to allow growth, but a few flames might be seen that will not go anywhere,” which is “typical fire behavior.”
The fire began August 16 and erupted in the Labor Day windstorm. So far, officials said ODOT has removed 19,200 trees off the roads, and “fire weakened trees continue to fall on area roads.”
The east wind coupled with the hot weather is “expected to stir fire behavior” inside the Holiday Farm Fire, which will create small columns of smoke over the next few days.
The fire in Lane County is 173,094 acres and 55% contained. Hazards and debris removal will continue in the area along Hwy 126, but cars will be allowed through with a pilot car in a 10-mile stretch between mileposts 28 and 38.
The fire hasn’t shown much movement in the past day, authorities said. There is “slow creeping” along the slope and ridgeline above the Windy River Highway/Forest Road 30.” The rest of the fire is in the “patrol and monitor stage,” with clean-up in progress.
Officials said the fire is 40% contained.
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