Public safety crews on high alert
Two Hubbard police officers headed to Molalla Thursday to help that city's police evacuate residents as wildfires threatened many municipalities in Clackamas County.
Meanwhile, their chief was busy evacuating his own family.
Hubbard Police Chief Dave Rash said his home hamlet of Mulino was among the communities that went from a Level 1 alert status Thursday morning to Level 3 by Thursday afternoon.
"My family and I were evacuated from our residence late afternoon yesterday," Rash said Friday morning. "We are doing good and safe."
With his family safe, Rash and the Hubbard Police Department, like others in the region, kept on high alert as communities throughout the region have been affected, and in some cases devastated, by reportedly the worst wildfire breakout in Oregon's history.
"Hubbard has not had any interruptions in our police services and have been operating at 24 hours," Rash said. "We did have two officers come in on their days off to assist the city of Molalla with their evacuation process.
"The Woodburn/Hubbard Fire Chief (Joe Budge) has been great giving us updated information for our city, which we have passed on through social media sites."
Municipalities, including Woodburn, have been hyper engaged in disseminating information via social media during the state of emergency. A part of that involves encouraging residents to visit the Metcom 911 website (metcom911.com) and navigating to the "Citizen Info" then "Citizen Alert" tabs and sign up for alerts on their mobile phones.
Metcom 911 has landline phone numbers in the area already established for alerts.
Budge noted that three career Woodburn Fire Department members who live in Silverton, Mount Angel, and Molalla also have received evacuation orders for their homes and have evacuated their families.
The Woodburn Fire Department has been maintaining robust staffing in conjunction with the red flag warning status since Sept. 3, Budge said.
"Each day, we have been staffing up a second engine and a tender at Station 22 to augment the career staffed engine at Station 21. We are experiencing a high call volume with numerous small spot fires — one acre or less in size — each afternoon in the Woodburn, Gervais, St. Paul and Hubbard areas."
As yet, most north Marion County communities have not been issued alerts at any level.
"Wildfire threats for the cities of Woodburn, Gervais and Hubbard remain unchanged with no threats present or evacuation notices in place for any of the cities," Budge said. "We had many spot fires from ember drops in grass and brush in the rural areas of all three communities on Tuesday. That subsided with the calming winds on Wednesday. We are maintaining heavy staffing levels in Woodburn and Hubbard and are ready for all emergency needs."
The chief said in addition to increased staffing, the department has been coordinating with Hubbard, Aurora, St. Paul and Marion County Fire District No. 1 on local responses.
Meanwhile, city of Woodburn messages have joined those by Mayor Eric Swenson, City Administrator Scott Derickson and Police Chief Jim Ferraris advising residents to stay calm.
Derickson stressed that residents stay indoors as much as possible and encouraged people to check on neighbors if they can. In a video posted Thursday, Ferraris assured residents that city police are acutely attuned to the state of emergency and any changes that develop.
"Our emergency management team is monitoring the situation very closely," Ferraris said. "My staff and I are in constant contact with the governor's office, with State Emergency Management, with Marion County Emergency Management, the Woodburn Fire District, and all of our public safety partners, actually, across the state to get the latest information to make decisions for the welfare and safety of the city of Woodburn residents."
Ferraris also encouraged people who want to volunteer or help with resources during the state of emergency to contact the county's emergency management team at 503-391-7294. Marion County also urges people to contact the Red Cross directly at redcross.org/local/oregon.html.
"Additionally, we are asking people to reserve the use of 911 for true emergencies," Ferraris added. "Don't innundate the 911 system with questions, or suggestions or comments; reserve that for true emergencies. If you see a fire or there is another emergency, call 911. Otherwise, call the nonemergency number to report your concern."
Friday morning update
City of Woodburn spokesman Tommy Moore issued an update Friday morning stressing that alert status for the area remains unchanged.
The Beachie Fire that devastated much of Santiam Canyon, forcing evacuations of Detroit, Idanha, Mill City, Lyons and Mehama and all areas between has seen very little new growth over Thursday night. It currently is 10 miles east of Silverton, but emergency management officials are concerned the blaze could merge with the Riverside Fire east of Molalla, Colton and Estacada.
Moore added that winds Friday are expected to be light from the southwest, transitioning to west later and continuing from the west over the weekend. The change of wind direction is increasing the relative humidity and lowering air temperatures.
These factors should significantly slow or stop further westward extension of the fires toward Silverton, Molalla and Colton and the smoke should begin to clear over the weekend with the change of wind direction.
Light rain currently is forecast for early next week.
Estacada, Molalla, and Colton remain in Level 3 evacuation status due to a possible threat from the Riverside Fire, while Canby and Oregon City are at Level 2.
To get immediate notifications of alert changes, visit metcom911.com/citizen-alert- and register at the "Citizen Alert" notification sign-up.
Other useful links:
For information about shelter, transportation or volunteering, contact the Marion County Emergency Operations Center at 503-391-7294,
or visit redcross.org/local/oregon.html.
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