Sandy remains in Level 2 with advice to evacuate now if possible
As of 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, the core of Sandy remains in Level 2, "Be Set," evacuation status, meaning while residents aren't in imminent danger, they should be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice.
The city government says more information is coming and will likely be released in coordination with the Sandy Fire District at or near 10 a.m. Friday.
Promisingly, city officials added that "initial information this morning is positive for the Sandy area."
On Thursday, the city government published a list of known routes out Sandy and advised residents who have a place to go to voluntarily evacuate early. If people leave now, city officials said, that will alleviate traffic congestion if and when the city enters Level 3, "Go," status, the most urgent level.
Open routes include:
• Highway 26 in both directions
• Bluff Road north into Multnomah County, and
• Ten Eyck Road to Bull Run Road or Lusted Road into Multnomah County
Sandy police also urged people to avoid going south on Highway 211, as there are closures in that direction.
Clackamas County imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for all county residents starting Thursday night, saying "no persons other than those working in life- and property-saving activities (or civilian employees at night-shift jobs) may be upon the streets or public places (during this time)."
The curfew, however, does not apply to first responders and community members working to relocate during wildfire evacuations.
Riverside fire at 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," Mount Hood National Forest officials 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 1 mile apart.
The Riverside Fire has burned an estimated 125,000 acres and is 0% contained. Heavy smoke in the area prevented pilots from conducting air operations Thursday.
For several hours on Thursday afternoon, firefighters were pulled off active response for their safety but remained in the area for what agencies described as a "tactical pause."
"When fires merge, it can create extreme conditions," said Capt. Brandon Paxton, spokesperson for the Clackamas Fire District. "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, Mount 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 was slated to take command of the Riverside Fire as of Friday morning. 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.
For regular Estacada-area updates, visit The Estacada News website.
School events canceled
The Oregon Trail School District has announced that all school events have been suspended until further notice because of the fires and related evacuations, and that the intended school start date of Sept. 14 is now tentative.
"Though we understand our primary charge to be academic in nature, we will put all of our focus into ensuring our families and staff are healthy, safe, and settled before we continue to attend to academic pursuits," said Superintendent Aaron Bayer in a statement. "Our primary goal in the coming days will be to work with our local law enforcement, fire department, the Red Cross, and Clackamas County to provide the direction and resources necessary to navigate these challenges. PGE is managing a Community Resource Center at our Welches campus. Red Cross volunteers helped us find temporary accommodations for evacuating families. We will do everything we can to support our front-line responders as they work to protect our residents and their property."
He added that all planned parent-teacher meetings, open houses and material distributions will be rescheduled.
"I know we were eager to get the start of school underway; however, at this time, our back to school start date of September 14th has become tentative," Bayer explained. "There is nothing more important than family. Please focus all of your energy on the health and safety of your family and friends. We will provide you with updates as we have them."
Help is available
The Sandy Post has compiled a list of known resources for those affected by the fires. To view that list, click here.
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