Dry, hot weather combined with unusually strong gusting wind Monday night left firefighters scrambling to douse brush and structure fires across the Portland metro area.
Meanwhile, new and growing wildfires prompted evacuations across the state.
In Oregon City, a fire that began in an abandoned warehouse at Clackamas Cove spread to nearby brush and three more structures. A large apartment complex nearby was briefly evacuated as embers blew within reach. About 12 acres of brush were burned.
Clackamas Fire District spokesman Capt. Brandon Paxton said the agency was also fighting several brushfires Monday night. If the dry heat and winds held up, he expected the busy night to continue well into Tuesday.
“That’s just a perfect recipe for increased fire spread,” Paxton said. “The take-home here is to use extreme caution and don’t go out and burn material outside.”
Embers that spread as far as an eighth of a mile presented a major challenge for firefighters, Paxton said.
Portland Fire & Rescue said it was responding to multiple small brush fires across the city. It also said its crews had responded to trees and that had toppled onto houses and branches that had fallen in pedestrians. It urged residents to say at home if possible.
OREGON WILDFIRES GROW
The rare easterly winds and hot weather helped one new fire grow quickly Monday night and prompted new evacuations elsewhere.
A fast-moving wildfire discovered Monday night north of Collier Springs on the Fremont-Winema National Forest Chiloquin Ranger District in Klamath County moved three miles over the course of the evening, spreading to more than 1,000 acres. The Two Four Two fire jumped over U.S. 97.
It prompted immediate evacuations for Collier State Park and people who live nearby. More nearby residents have been told to prepare for an evacuation.
The Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires in eastern Marion County prompted an immediate evacuation order for the Breitenbush Hot Springs resort, and residents of Detroit will soon have to be ready to leave in case fires grow further.
“Residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter, other housing outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
Nearly 240 people and four helicopters are tackling the Beachie Creek fire, which the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says spans 513 acres. The fire will likely grow Tuesday as the easterly winds continue through at least Tuesday night, according to the center.