Riverside fire reaches 125,000 acres
Thursday afternoon, Sept. 10, saw the Riverside Fire near Estacada come close to merging with the Beachie Creek Fire, the latter of which originated Sunday, Aug. 16, in the Willamette National Forest.
"Erratic winds pushed new growth on virtually all sides of the fire with crews reporting the largest growth to the east and southeast throughout the day," Mt. Hood National Forest leaders wrote in a news release. "In the early afternoon, critical fire conditions developed as 10,000-foot smoke plumes from the Riverside Fire and Beachie Creek Fire merged."
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the two fires remained approximately one mile apart. The Riverside Fire has burned 125,000 acres and is 0% contained. Heavy smoke in the area prevented pilots from conducting air operations.
For several hours on Thursday afternoon, firefighters were pulled off active response for their safety but remained in the area for a tactical pause.
"When fires merge, it can create extreme conditions," said Brandon Paxton, captain and public information officer at Clackamas Fire. "We're taking time to take in information and make a plan. We want to take a moment to ensure that our plans are the right ones."
Paxton noted that tactical pauses like these are common when fire conditions change significantly.
"Human life always comes first," added Richard Periman, Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor. "The tactical pause this afternoon gave firefighters time to move to safety and reassess the extreme conditions they were facing out there on the ground."
An incident management team will take command of the Riverside Fire at 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11. Additionally, Federal Emergency Management Agency firefighters out of Texas and five engines from Utah will arrive in Clackamas County shortly.
Because of the Riverside Fire and the Dowty Road Fire, Estacada, Eagle Creek, Barton, George, Dover, Dodge and Springwater are on Level 3 evacuation, meaning residents should leave immediately.
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