Powerline Fire Level 3 evacuees can return home Friday morning
Remaining people under Level 3, "Go," evacuation orders near the Powerline Fire may return home as of 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, fire officials with the Gaston Rural Fire District said.
Residents living on Southwest Dundee Road, Southwest Herring Road, Southwest Lee Road and Southwest Cascara Drive were originally evacuated Tuesday.
Those areas have been downgraded to Level 2, "Be Set," evacuation orders Friday.
"Those residents should still be set to leave again if conditions change," officials said.
The community of Cherry Grove and homes along Southwest Patton Valley Road were downgraded to Level 2 at 6 p.m. Thursday. Those two areas are now downgraded to Level 1, "Be Ready," evacuation orders as of Friday morning, officials said.
"The fire conditions have been favorable for us to downgrade evacuations as well as need fewer resources," the Gaston Rural Fire District said Friday morning.
The size of the fire didn't change Thursday night. It was still burning at 175 acres with an estimated 50% containment as of Friday morning.
"The containment portion is difficult to calculate in some areas due to very steep terrain," officials said.
The Oregon Department of Forestry will be taking command of the incident Friday, using local crews from Forest Grove, Cornelius, Gaston and Banks as well as contract crews and equipment, officials said.
"Today the focus will be on enforcing the containment lines even greater as well as putting out hot spots," officials said. "You may see smoke from the area, but that's areas burning within our containment area."
The Washington County Sheriff's Office will still have a presence in the area.
Henry Hagg Lake is still closed as firefighting aircraft being deployed for several other active fire incidents in the area continue to use to the lake for water refueling.
Firefighters do not plan on using additional air resources to fight the Powerline Fire, according to the fire district.
In a Thursday night update, Gaston Rural Fire District officials dispelled a rumor circulating on Facebook groups based in a neighboring county that the fire grew in intensity and officials called in air support.
"That is 100% false," officials said.
In a Friday afternoon update, ODF said the agency "has been working side-by-side with our local fire district partners since the beginning of the fire and is well situated to bring this fire event to a close."
Local departments' resources and equipment such as engines have been deployed to help firefighting efforts in Clackamas County, ODF said.
ODF fire crews will continue working to cool the fire on all sides at least 50 feet in from the perimeter in an effort to keep any remaining embers from escaping the fire line, ODF said.
"Fire managers are hopeful that the change in weather with higher humidity and calm winds will aid in their work," ODF said.
The fire is located 2 miles northeast of the community of Cherry Grove. ODF officials said Friday afternoon the agency is working to determine accurate containment numbers.
More accurate mapping by prompted a reduction in estimates of the fire's size to 126 acres, ODF said.
Resources assigned to the fire include two hand crews, eight engines, one fire dozer, one excavator, two water tenders and overhead personnel. The total number personnel assigned to the fire is 71.
District leadership expressed "a huge thank you to our partners" in local fire districts, landowners, and equipment operators, without which they would not have stopped this fire, ODF said.
"Our partnerships are truly appreciated," ODF said. "We also express our deep thanks to the community in stepping up to help those who have been affected by this fire."
Editor's note: This story has been updated as of 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, to include details from the Oregon Department of Forestry.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.