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More than half-million Oregonians forced to evacuate due to wildfires

Oregon wildfires state map 910
So many wildfires over such a wide area have brought a rare statewide air quality alert from DEQ

That's more than 10% of state's population

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon officials now say more than 500,000 people statewide have been forced to evacuate because of wildfires.

The latest estimates from Thursday evening come from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s over 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population.

More than 1,400 square miles have burned this week in the state. Authorities say the wildfire activity was particularly acute Thursday afternoon in northwestern Oregon as hot, windy conditions continued.

At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown said there have been fatalities, but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Corrections says it is evacuating a prison out of an abundance of caution as two large wildfires in the area appear to be merging.

Authorities said Thursday afternoon they evacuated more than 1,300 adults in custody at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, which houses mostly women.

Officials say those evacuated are being relocated and not released.

Earlier this week, fires triggered evacuations at three other prisons near Oregon’s capital city of Salem. Those inmates were moved to the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Oregon Office of Emergency Management news release:

State Of Oregon Battles Record 900,000 Acres of Wildfires, Urges Public to Stay Away From Fires, Heed Evacuation Warnings
Oregon Office of Emergency Management - 09/10/20 5:06 PM

Firefighters are prioritizing life safety as they battle a record 900,000 acres of wildfires across Oregon. The public and the news media are urged to stay away from active and evacuated wildfire areas, to obey road closure barricades, and to monitor and follow evacuation orders. 

An estimated 500,000 Oregonians have been evacuated, and that number continues to grow.

The public is urged to check local county websites for information on evacuation orders, which may include email, cell phone text messages. 

The public is also urged to sign up for emergency alerts; which vary by county.

In other major developments today: 

  • In response to reports of price gouging in lodging rates and other essential consumer goods and services for Oregonians who have evacuated fire areas, Gov. Brown issued Executive Order 20-42, to help protect consumers from price gouging. This order also prevents of other essential consumer goods and services. 
  • Gov. Brown also signed a request today for a federal disaster declaration. If approved, a declaration could result in federal financial assistance for disaster response, recovery, and mitigation against future disasters.

State emergency management officials encourage people affected by the current fires, whether or not they have evacuated, to register on The American Red Cross Safe and Well Website. This helpful tool can bring relief to people looking for loved ones and help inform search efforts. 

OEM Director Andrew Phelps said the extensive number of fires, and their severity, have tapped out statewide resources. The agency is reaching out to emergency management agencies across the country for resources, assistance and support. 

Resource requests are initiated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a national interstate mutual aid agreement enabling states to share resources during times of disaster. 

“Our Oregon firefighters and the emergency management community have been fully engaged on these devastating fires, including the many first responders who have been personally affected by the evacuations, power outages and destruction. Their efforts, stamina and response are nothing short of heroic,” said Phelps. “We can all do our part to support them by staying informed, being ready to go if evacuation and if you are somewhere safe, staying put."                 

Visit to learn about an interactive fire and hotspot map, road closures, air quality index, emergency lodging and more.

For additional information, the media and public are encouraged to follow Oregon Office of Emergency Management social media accounts on Twitter @OregonOEM and  

State agencies have posted videos and high resolution photos for news media and public use. See the Flickr account for the Oregon Department of Transportation and the visual information website for the Oregon National Guard

Members of the public who are seeking additional information can call 211.

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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