Firefighters have made significant progress on the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire, bringing the blaze to 70% containment by late Friday morning.
"It's fantastic news," said Kim Haughn, a spokesperson for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.
TVF&R command chiefs are currently surveying the conditions of the fire with Oregon Department of Forestry officials and evaluating whether any evacuation orders need to be adjusted, Haughn said.
Evacuation levels have not changed since 4 p.m. Thursday, when some residents were permitted to return to their homes.
Officials continue to stress that people who returned home should be ready to evacuate again at any time, Haughn said.
Areas under Level 2, "Be Set," evacuation measures include most of Northeast Hillside and Chehalem drives between Quartermile Lane and North Valley Road in the Newberg area; the Highway 219 corridor that had been on the eastern perimeter of the Level 3 evacuation zone; and the north slope between Southwest Herd Lane and Vanderschuere Road, including most of Neugebauer and Jaquith roads on the Washington County side of the area.
Bald Peak and Mountain Top roads remain under Level 3, "Go," evacuation orders, as does the swath of the Bald Peak area north from there to Herd Lane.
About 70 firefighters are currently fighting the remaining flames, putting out hotspots and focusing on protecting structures, Haughn said. As many as 170 firefighters were working on the fire at its peak.
As fire conditions improved Thursday, TVF&R deployed three strike teams consisting of firefighters and fire engines to help fight fires in Clackamas County, where the Riverside Fire is burning.
Super Scooper amphibious aircraft piloted by ODF made 14 drops of water onto the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire on Thursday, substantially helping fire conditions, Haughn said.
"That was instrumental — hands-down, instrumental — to our forward progress with this fire," she said.
Higher humidity and reduced winds were also key to the progress firefighters made Thursday, Haughn said.
An area of the fire to the north continues to be challenging to put out, she said.
"That's the one area of the fire they're still trying to extinguish," Haughn said. "The southern flank of the entire fire has been, I don't want to say a whole lot easier, but they were able to hold that line pretty good. So now we're just really closely monitoring that northern piece."
No one has been injured and no homes have been damaged in the fire, which began Tuesday evening and rapidly advanced as high winds and low humidity pushed the flames toward residences. Three barns have been burned in the fire.
Between 500 and 1,000 people were evacuated from the area.
The fire was originally estimated at burning 2,000 acres, but after the Washington County Sheriff's Office used a plane to do aerial surveillance Thursday, officials scaled down the size of the fire to 875 acres.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday it has has authorized the use of federal funds to assist agencies with the cost of fighting the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire.
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