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Multiple fires on Macksburg Road, Unger Road, and Wilhoit Road causing evacuations and power outages

Three fires are wreaking havoc in the Molalla and Colton areas today, and due to high winds, they are spreading.

Fire crews were unavailable for comment, but Marcus Mendoza, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office public information officer, visited all three fires in the early morning.

Macksburg Road/RSG fire

One fire started Monday, Sept. 7 at about 8:45 p.m. near Macksburg Road, jumped across Highway 213 and began to burn at RSG Forest Products Inc.

The flames consumed large piles of uncut lumber, Mendoza said, and the fire spread.

"There's a ton of fire over there," Mendoza said.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The Macksburg Road fire continues to burn and fill the air with smoke off of Highway 213 on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The fire closed Highway 213 for about five hours. Oregon State Police, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and Oregon Department of Transportation worked to close other roads in the area as well.

Mendoza did not know the source of the spark.

Unger Road fire in Colton

Another fire is blazing in Colton near South Unger Road, and has grown to at least 25 acres in size, according to Mendoza.

The fire started with a tree falling on a power line. It consumed half an acre and quickly rose to three acres, crews told Mendoza. By 3 a.m., the fire was burning on approximately 25 acres but had not reached any structures.

Portland General Electric shut down all power in the area.

Residents on South Unger Road between South Olson Road and South Baurer Road were forced to evacuate, per Mendoza.

Displaced residents are being directed to Colton High School, where the American Red Cross is set up.

Fire burns on Wilhoit south of Molalla

A third fire is highly visible from downtown Molalla—the one that's burning on Wilhoit Road and Byrd Road, directly south of Molalla.

Mendoza said there is no estimate as to the size of this fire because of the terrain and rural location.

Crews were waiting on assistance from the Oregon Department of Forestry for a potential air attack of the fire, as of early morning when Mendoza was on scene.

A reverse 911 went out to Molalla residents and crews went door to door to ensure everyone was informed and safe.

County declares state of emergency

Power and internet outages closed Colton School District, Molalla River School District and Canby School District Tuesday, Sept. 8, which was supposed to be the first day of remote learning for all three.

Mendoza said PGE was onsite at all three fires, along with crews from multiple fire departments across the county.

"I can't even tell you how many fire agencies I saw," Mendoza said, adding, "Those guys are working hard. That's for sure."

Some of the crews leading the efforts include Molalla Fire, Colton Fire, Clackamas Fire, Canby Fire, Aurora Fire and even Gresham Fire.

In addition to Colton High School being opened for displaced residents, Molalla Church of the Nazarene has opened its property to motor homes and RVs, according to Ruth Carrica, administrative assistant. The church has limited power supply and generators. Carrica said first responders are welcome to stage or rest on the property as well.

Evacuated animals are being sheltered at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds and Event Center.

Other fires are blazing in Clackamas County as well, Mendoza said. Police spent time in the Estacada area near Road 46 helping to evacuate campgrounds.

More than 40,600 people in the county were without power as of 6 a.m. according to Koin6 News, a Pamplin Media Group news partner.

The four active fires in the county, including Unger road, Wilhoit and Byrd Road as well as Redland and Potter Road in Oregon City and Beachie Creek Fire in Mount Hood National Forest, prompted Clackamas County Commissioners to declare a state of emergency.

The move will allow county officials to request resources from external agencies and organizations, evacuate individuals, barricade roads and redirect funds for emergency use.

Kristen Wohlers
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