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Fire Alert

Beachie Creek Fire estimated at 130,000 acres; evacuees flee to C.O. amid devastation

'It was like driving through hell ... did you lose everything or is the only thing you saved yourself?'

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- High winds Monday night fanned the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires, prompting Level 3 evacuations and closure of state Highway 22 through the Santiam Canyon -- and now, as images of destruction circulate, many evacuated residents fear they may no longer have homes to return to.

As of Tuesday evening, the Beachie Creek fire burning in eastern Marion County had blackened 130,000 acres, with no containment, traveling at nearly 3 acres per second, according to officials.

Downed power lines and fallen trees from Monday night were contributing to the growth.

Meanwhile, the Lionshead Fire burning on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and the Deschutes National Forest has spread west into the Willamette National Forest. The Lionshead fire has burned more than 27,000 acres and was still 31 percent contained.

Hundreds of people have evacuated, and some headed east to a Red Cross evacuation center at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.

As of Tuesday evening, amid viral Facebook videos of calamitous scenes in Mill City and Gates, fire officials had not released information yet on how many structures were lost to what officials said will be jointly managed by several agencies as the Santiam Fire.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office Facebook page had limited official information, including listing of Level 3 and Level 2 evacuation areas, but the comments were full of people asking for more information what was lost to the flames, and some able to provide answers.

Detroit evacuee Jody Evans spoke to NewsChannel 21 about her experience evacuating the area.

"Fire on both sides, winds blowing, ash flying -- it was like driving through hell," Evans said, leaving that aching question: "Did you lose everything, or is the only thing you saved yourself?"

Evans, who has lived in her home for nearly a year, managed to pick up and go when sheriff's deputies demanded everyone evacuate the area around midnight.

She, along with her four neighbors, fled over Santiam Pass, arrived in Sisters around 1:30 a.m. and camped at the Ray's Food Place parking lot, later arriving at the Redmond fairgrounds with little to no belongings.

Evans' neighbor, Stephen Galbraith, said he and his wife made small provisions, but still evacuated with only a few personal items.

"Medications, some clothes and the truck -- the cat and some valuables," Galbraith described. "Insurance paperwork, we had some cash on hand and some old rifles." 

The Lionshead Fire has moved into the Willamette National Forest, and toward Detroit Lake. At the same time, the Beachie Creek fire is threatening the towns of Gates, Mill City, Lyons, Stayton and Scotts Mills, many under a Level 3 evacuation notice.

Mark Enty with Northwest Incident Management Team 10 said the Beachie Creek Fire and the Lionshead Fire were only about 4-5 miles apart Tuesday, and they are monitoring whether the fires merge.

"I know that the proximity of the fires is apparently very close," Enty said. "It looks like they are definitely getting a lot closer together, so we will have to take that into consideration in terms of resource management, how were going to be deploying resources.

"And since there are so many fires, the resources can become more scarce," he added.

About 40-50 evacuees checked in with the Red Cross at the Redmond fairgrounds and have been receiving assistance, as well as hearing updates from family and friends.

Theo Lahner, who evacuated from McKenzie Bridge, said, "The pandemic on top of the fire just creates a sense of chaos."

Brian Frelich, who evacuated from Rainbow, said the devastation is already clear: "We know people who have lost their houses, their businesses, lost everything -- but their lives, thank God."

The Red Cross is providing evacuees with rooms at a Redmond motel.

Central Oregon's Pet Evacuation team helped out the evacuees arriving in Redmond with pet food, litter, litter boxes and disposable bowls, Jamie Kanski said.

The Lionshead Fire was sparked by lightning on Aug. 16. The cause of the Beachie Creek Fire is still unknown.

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Fire / News / Oregon-Northwest / Redmond / Sisters / Top Stories / Warm Springs
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

Comments

24 Comments

  1. the beachie creek fire has been burning for 2 weeks but was small (could have been put out) but it was in a wilderness area and started naturally and the U.S.F.S. policy is to let them burn till it rains and this one back fired and killed and destroyed people’s lives.

    1. Started August 16th. US forest circus’ let it burn policy just bit them in the arse, once again. So sad all these people have to suffer from a terrible fire policy. Homes, perhaps lives lost. How many years in a row has this policy blown up in their face now?? What was it….two or three years ago we all suffered from a week+ of smoke as the fire crept up to and over the crest of the Cascades towards Elk Lake? The summer before, there was another similar wilderness fire left to “take care of itself” while Central Oregon was smothered in smoke (giving me a persistent cough lasting until this spring).
      This let it burn policy for areas of the wilderness obviously needs to be revisited.

      1. Your whiney lungs arent good justification for forest policy changes but maybe this much carnage in populated areas is
        ,
        On a sidenote kids it was lionshead that started 3 weeks ago not beachie creek, whether spotting caused the 2nd and 3rd ones is a different question

  2. “Downed power lines and fallen trees from Monday night were contributing to the growth.”

    I thought PGE had made the decision to cut power up and down the valley heading towards Mt. Hood.

    So what is the source of all these fires ?

      1. Sooo- PGE doesn’t understand how our PNW high winds work ?

        I take the Santiam pass all the time traveling back and forth to Portland- If High winds are gonna hit Sandy- their gonna hit Little Sweden too !

        This reminds me of the covid science that states the virus can travel 6 feet on a single cough- so the powers that be set the “social distancing” gap at exactly 6 feet ! No concept of a safety net.

        Dunno what to say- Gee- maybe the Governor can shut down another river or something !

          1. Don’t even know where “Little Sweden” is do you… still distracted by “Russia-Russia-Russia”… a mental disorder you picked up here at the Z I’m sure.

        1. The Red Cross is asking people not gather up supplies but make donations. They always ask this, and COVID-19 has made it even more crucial:
          https://www.facebook.com/RedCrossCascades/
          “For the safety of everyone, we are unable to accept material donations of any kind right now. Financial donations at redcross.org are the quickest and best way to get help to those who need it most. Your financial donation to the Red Cross helps provide shelter, meals, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and
          other assistance during wildfires.”

          1. “For the safety of everyone, we are unable to accept material donations of any kind right now.”

            I can’t think of a single “material item” that cannot be cleaned- sanitized- or disinfected for covid/corona/Wuhan virus !

            What is the actual reasoning behind the denials of these donations- just gimme money ???

              1. I’d prefer an alternative to the Red Cross. They do great work but their overhead is very high for a charitable organization. I’m happy to give money to any restaurant or local business providing necessities for evacuees but that organization is pork heavy.

              2. Last I checked- millions of Americans were put into “idle-house arrest” status from Brown’s Executive Orders to close down the state.

                With modern technology- what used to take hours to sanitize- now takes seconds. But lemme guess- you still haven’t read the CDC Re-opening Guidelines- too busy “reminding” folks of Brown’s “stay at home” orders to expand your knowledge as to what’s really going on in the world of Corona.

  3. According to their fb page, detroit-idahna fd is cut off and has abandoned the district, attempting evac over forest rds from mongold to govt camp with 70 civilians because salem blackhawks cant land, good luck everyone

    1. You need to stop spreading unconfirmed rumors you find on Facebook- in times of expected mass evacuations- Fakebook is clearly unreliable… no matter what Zuckerberg tells you.

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