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Some 36 Pit Fire evacuees allowed to return home

Officials hopeful on progress toward containment


Photo Credit: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Bulldozers were used to create a line behind Silver Fox RV Park. If conditions are right, firefighters will burn the underbrush on the other side of the line so that the wildfire will not be able to burn up fuel on a path toward the park. Fire personnel are stationed at Silver Fox RV Park to make sure the fire doesnt jump the line.Sgt. Nate Thompson of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office told media that some evacuation levels have been lowered this morning.

Previously evacuated Estacada area residences except the Silver Fox RV Park have been downgraded from a Level 3 mandatory evacuation to a Level 2 evacuation.

Those in Level 2 evacuation areas must still be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

Residents who had been evacuated from Southeast Fall Creek Road and Michaels Road may return home, but should remain on alert and prepared to leave.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Residents of the Silver Fox RV park had to leave in a hurry when they were evacuated Sunday morning. Silver Fox RV park remains closed, as does the Lazy Bend Campground and Work Center, Promontory Park and the La Dee OHV area.

As of the latest update, the 36 Pit Fire is burning 4,000 acres about 10 miles east of Estacada.

Thompson said the fire started in a rock quarry near Milepost 36 of Highway 224 on Saturday, Sept. 13. The cause is still under investigation.

Forest Service officials have previously said the fire is believed to be caused by target shooting.

The 36 Pit Fire spread rapidly from what was first reported as 30-acres on Saturday evening, to more than 1,000 acres on Sunday and continued to grow on Monday and Tuesday.

Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the disaster a conflagration, allowing state resources to assist in battling the fire.

Clackamas County Commissioners approved an emergency order allowing the county to seek state assistance to fight the wildfire and to form a local incident command to provide support to the affected area.

More than 580 people, 16 crews, two helicopters and 28 engines from various agencies are battling the flames according to a report by the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

The data reflects the latest information as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16 and may not show additional resources that have arrived since.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Bruce Holloway, an incident commander of the 36 Pit Fire Incident Management Team talks to reporters Wednesday morning. Holloway said weather conditions have improved for fighting the fire. Responders are prioritizing halting the fire from spreading on the north and west flanks. Locals should expect to see smoke from controlled burnouts today.Bruce Holloway, an incident commander of the Incident Management Team for the fire, said he expects the number of responders to grow to 800-900 people today.

The fire is currently 7 percent contained.

However, temperatures have cooled and the wind has died down creating better conditions for firefighters.

Fire personnel are prioritizing stopping the fire’s spread on the north and west flanks.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Fire personnel continue to monitor Silver Fox RV Park and are tasked with protecting the structures there. Holloway warned locals to expect to see smoke from controlled burnouts Wednesday.

Holloways said they hope to be able to lower evacuation orders for the Silver Fox RV Park in the next few days.

“We haven’t had any structures damaged or destroyed,” Holloway said at a media briefing late Wednesday morning.

Highway 224 remains closed near the fire area except to emergency vehicles.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Highway 244 is closed in the affected area of the 36 Pit Fire. Officials have wartned that the road will likely remain closed even after firefighters leave due to unstable conditions created by the fire on the slopes above the roadway.
The fire has made conditions dangerous on Highway 224, so Holloway said residents can expect it to be closed even after firefighters leave.

The wildfire has loosened boulders and trees and even activated landslides making certain areas hazardous for responders to navigate.

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