Wildfires in Oregon this weekend force evacuees to flee their homes

Wildfires in Oregon this weekend force evacuees to flee their homes

Thousands of Oregonians were forced to evacuate their homes over the weekend due to wind-driven wildfires.

It’s an experience that’s becoming more and more common for people in the West, where the summer gets hotter and drier every year.

For some, this wasn’t the first time they had escaped the oncoming flames. Barbara Gaines was forced to evacuate with her horses Friday night due to the McIver fire in Clackamas County, sparking memories when she was evacuated two years ago during a wormhole fire.

“This fire is not as huge as the last one,” Gaines said, standing near her horses in the parking lot at Clackamas Community College. “I’ll be happy when I can go home and have my coffee.”

At an evacuation center at Clackamas Community College on Saturday, Barbara Gaines tends to her horses after they were evacuated from her home near Milo McIver State Park in Clackamas County.

April Ehrlich / OPB

Gaines said she signed up for emergency alerts after her latest evacuation, so this time, she had plenty of time to prepare her horses for a quick departure. Gaines, ages 27 and 30, said that their advanced age makes them easier to care for, and easier to evacuate.

“They trust me,” Gaines said. “This trailer is their second home, which is why they stand up so well.”

The fire broke out near Milo McIver State Park in Estacada Friday night, prompting an evacuation order for nearby residents, as high winds set fires across the state. by Sunday morningMost of these eviction orders have been cancelled.

Around the same time Friday, a fire broke out in South Salem, leading to evacuations. Among the evacuees were Judy Turner and her daughter Shane Cooper, who brought with them 18 rabbits, six Tibetan mastiffs, two cats and a lizard.

Shane Cooper tends a caged rabbit in the parking lot at Goodson Middle School in South Salem after she and her family took their animals and vacated their farm due to a nearby grass fire.

After being evacuated from the family farm, Shane Cooper, left, pets a rabbit while her mother, Judy Turner, looks in the parking lot at Judson Middle School in South Salem on Saturday, September 10. The family also brought in another 17 rabbits, six Tibetan mastiffs, two cats and a lizard when the Vita Springs Road fire spread and led to evacuations.

April Ehrlich / OPB

“I have three types of rabbits here,” Turner said, pointing to the open hatch of an SUV, where there were several types of rabbits peeking out of cages. “These two little ones are Lionheads, and they are just a little pet rabbit. These guys here are American chinchillas. I also have a Rex rabbit there.”

Turner lives on a six-acre farm. She was not able to bring all of her pets with her; For example, the 11 Tibetan bulls they kept for fur and milk had to stay at home. She said she released them to the safest pastures, where there was little to be burned.

Although this was the first time she had evacuated her pets due to wildfires, Turner said her many years of working as an environmental health and safety manager helped her figure out how to better prepare for disasters.

The grass fire That led to the evictions south of Salem, in the Vita Springs area, has since fed, and many evictions have been lifted.

Not everyone was evacuated with time. Don Griffin, who was standing in a parking lot at Lane Events Center in Eugene on Saturday, said he was on his way home from a trip when he hit roadblocks. Thus he learned that his neighborhood in Oakridge had been evacuated.

A man sits in the driver's seat of a blue pickup truck.  He is smiling.

At the Lynn Events Center in Eugene, Don Griffin is sitting in his pickup truck after being forced to evacuate his home in Oakridge due to the Cedar Creek fire. September 10, 2022.

April Ehrlich / OPB

“So I didn’t get anything from the house,” said Griffin, standing near his truck. “Fortunately I had my dog ​​with me, but all her food and all these things came home. My treads came home.”

Griffin said he was surprised when he heard the news.

“I didn’t really expect it would flash the same way and reach our area,” Griffin said.

The Cedar Creek Fire It grew significantly on Friday and Saturday, as it grew to more than 85,000 acres and the containment lines jumped. But by Sunday, many eviction alerts had been lowered.

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