Fires recede, volunteers step up, more deaths reported
Evacuation orders for three Clackamas County towns were downgraded Saturday evening as crews continued to battle the Riverside Fire.
Canby, Oregon City and Sandy all were downgraded from a Level 2 to a Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation order, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. (Level 2 means be prepared to leave quickly; level one says an evacuation may be required.)
There are no reductions to Level 3 areas at this time, authorities said.
"This is some much-needed good news after the uncertainty of the past several days," the Sandy Police Department said in a late-night release.
In Washington County, volunteer firefighting brigade from the timber industry joined the battle lines, according to Forest Grove Fire and Rescue.
"Stimson Lumber Co. foresters with fire training and skills banded together to create a company crew and arrived with their company engines; Hampton Lumber joined in as well with their company engines. Bighorn Logging from Banks joined in and formed a 10 person crew to add capacity. Stimson added to that with a crew from C&H Reforestation," according to a press release.
"These are not crews that make a living fighting fire, these are crews that care for our forests, planting trees and managing tree spacing, but they have the skills to help and made the difference on this fire" said Mike Cafferata, district forester in Forest Grove.
Wildfire smoke continues to hug the Portland metro area, the Willamette Valley and much of the West Coast on Sunday. Air quality remains in harmful categories throughout the region. Air Quality Warning continue for much of the area and, for some counties, will carry over into Monday. That includes Multnomah and Clark counties.
A Dense Smoke Advisory is in effect for counties west of the Cascades until 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, and for counties east of the Cascades until noon Monday.
Rain is likely to arrive late Monday and should continue into Tuesday. The heaviest rain will be on the Oregon Coast; it is uncertain if the rain will reach the metro area.
Tragedy around the state
At least nine people have died in wildfires across the state and dozens missing.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office on Saturday night confirmed three additional deaths in the Almeda Fire.
As of Saturday, four people were confirmed dead in the Beachie Creek Fire in Marion county and one person in the Holiday Farm Fire in the Willamette National Forest.
As of Sunday, officials count more than 1 million acres burned and an estimated 40,000 forced to flee their homes. Many homes and businesses have been scorched.
In some parts of the state, as much one-third of electricity consumers remained without power Saturday morning.
Rumors of left-wing agitators causing fires or widespread looting have been debunked by law enforcement from the city and county level all the way up to the FBI, even though one Clackamas County Sheriff's Office deputy was placed on administrative leave Saturday, after having been caught on video spreading the rumors.
Rumors continue to float through social media of massive unrest — looters throwing Molotov cocktails and homeowners shooting people to protect their property.
According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, from Tuesday to Thursday, Sept. 8 to 10, deputies responded to nearly 330 calls in the county's Level 2 and Level 3 fire areas. That's a 405% increase over the number of calls fielded on Sept. 5 to 7.
But the vast majority were determined to be non-criminal in nature.
Between Sept. 5 and 10, deputies in Level 2 and Level 3 fire areas reported 31 incidents resulting in 10 arrests on 16 offenses, including drunken driving, first-degree theft, restraining order violations, domestic violence, possession of heroin and methamphetamine, and criminal trespass.
Reporters Brittany Allen, Anna Del Savio, Max Egener, Cindy Fama, Dana Haynes, Emily Lindstrand, Patrick Malee, Mark Miller, Raymond Rendleman, Sam Stites, Courtney Vaughn, Kristen Wohlers and Peter Wong have contributed to this week's wildfire stories. Photographers Alvaro Fontan, Jonathan House and Jaime Valdez have shot images. KOIN 6 News and Oregon Public Broadcasting contributed to this article. Both are news partners of Pamplin Media Group.
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