County Chair: ‘We Know You’re Scared for Your Homes, Your Lives’

All of Clackamas County is in at least a Level 1 — “Get Ready” — state of evacuation preparedness, with much of the area in levels 2 (“Get Set”) and 3 (“Go Now”) — as fire agencies across the county battle more than 10 fires of various size.

“We know you’re scared, for your homes, your lives, your neighbors,” Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard said during a press availability outside Clackamas 911 Tuesday night. “So please listen and be aware, and take any precautions necessary.”

Clackamas Fire District Chief Fred Charlton told reporters that crews from various agencies are fighting at least 10 distinct fires — four of them major wildland events spanning as much as 17,000 acres. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 homes were evacuated throughout the day — mainly in the southern and southwestern parts of the county.

Most of the agencies have been at work battling the infernos since 6 p.m. the previous evening, when extremely dry conditions and 40 mph winds combined to create a situation one firefighter likened to “a tinder box and a blowtorch.”

“For a few of them, we thought we had them contained,” Charlton said. “But as soon as the sun came up, the wind picked up and they exploded.”

Charlton acknowledged that some homes and other structures have been lost but said he could not yet put a number to it. No deaths or injuries have been reported.

One new conflagration broke out at the corner of South Spangler and Highway 213 near Carus Elementary School late Tuesday night. Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies told The Canby Current it is spreading fast and Carus area residents are advised to evacuate.

As of 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Highway 213 was still closed at South Spangler. Clackamas Fire were crews still on the scene but at a reduced. Fire is believed to be contained, according to first responders stationed near the scene, though area residents said on Facebook that the fire was continuing to spread.

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Hwy 213 and S Spangler Rd. This fire is moving southwest. #clackamaswildfires #fire #alert

The blaze was a combination brush and vehicle fire. Which came first is not clear — whether the vehicle started the vegetation fire or an ember from the brush fire ignited the vehicle — but at one point an RV was towing a flaming Jeep, according to reports from the scene.

No injuries were reported.

For the latest, see the county’s evacuation map.

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