Obey evacuation orders, sheriff cautions residents near the Eagle Creek blaze

September 9, 2017

Evacuation zones remained unchanged Saturday as Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese urged people to stay out of evacuated areas so crews can continue battling the Eagle Creek Fire.

Deputies continued to patrol evacuated areas, watching for spot fires and ensuring homes and businesses are kept safe.

Fire crews work overnight Friday to tackle the Eagle Creek blaze

“As the fire continues to impact our community, we’re aware there is tremendous strain on families,” Reese said. “We want you to know level-three areas still have fire activity. There is tremendous activity still on the western edge of the fire.”

Throughout Friday night, crews were able to take an offensive approach as firefighters dug fire lines to prevent flames from spreading near communities. But Reese warned that it’s not safe for people to return until evacuations are lifted.

“We want to keep roads open for first responders and keep fire crews working as hard as they can,” Reese said. “We’re working as hard as we can to protect homes in this area and establish fire lines.”

Light winds from the west helped nearly 1,000  firefights Friday and Saturday contain the blaze, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Greg Cerda. The fire, which has burned an estimated 33,000 acres, is still 7 percent contained.  Cerda said that fire activity in the Bull Run Watershed, which supplies drinking water nearly 1 million residents in the Portland Metro area, has been minimal.

“This is why we are being aggressive on the west end of the fire now, taking advantage of favorable conditions,” Cerda said.

Clear skies also allowed crews to use helicopters to dump water on the fire. He said crews are using roads and natural barriers such as rivers, lakes, and streams to create lines to contain the fire. Firefighters are working along Interstate 84 to mitigate hazards and mop up burning areas. That could include putting out smaller fires and clearing burned trees and unstable rock from slopes along the roads.

Command of the Eagle Creek blaze, the nation’s highest priority blaze, transitioned Saturday to a Type I incident management team, the nation’s highest level team for fighting a wildfire.