Estacada and Colton city limits have been downgraded to level 1 — “get ready” — evacuation status, incident commanders announced Monday afternoon, as the sprawling Riverside Fire reached 25% containment and climbing.
The evacuation zones have shrunk dramatically in the past week, with Canby, Oregon City, Molalla and many rural communities such as Beavercreek and Mulino all at normal — or baseline — status.
The area of the Wilhoit Fire near Molalla has also been returned to level 1 status. The areas immediately surrounding the Dowty Fire, Unger Fire, and Riverside Fire remain at level 3: “Go Now.”
The Mount Hood National Forest remains closed, as crews assess fire damage as well as the more recent lightning storms and mudslides that have closed roads and damaged infrastructure.
Two weeks ago, the entire county was in at least level 1, with thousands forced to evacuate by encroaching flames and toxic smoke.
The situation is now vastly improved. Riverside incident commanders also reported Monday that firefighters have established a fire line along the entire western perimeter of the conflagration, which has burned more than 137,000 acres in Clackamas County.
Sunday, firefighters were able to fly to see where heat remains within the fire’s perimeter so they can focus on eliminating those hot spots.
“We’ve got crews really putting in hard work to get the lines secured around your communities,” said Incident Commander Alan Sinclair. “We’re over 700 strong, so we’ve got what we need, and I’m really pleased with the amount of work that’s been done.”
Expect to see smoke within the fire’s perimeter as conditions warm up and dry out. Hand crews, bulldozers, and masticators (machines that grind up vegetation) continue to work their way around the fire, constructing fireline where they can do so safely and effectively.
Challenges include steep terrain, standing dead trees, and rockslides.
A Temporary Flight Restriction also remains in effect. A drone was spotted within restricted airspace over the fire Sunday.
It did not affect suppression operations at the time, but fire managers have grave concerns. Drones are not able to communicate with firefighting aircraft and a mid-air collision could be deadly.
The countywide curfew, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., is now in effect only for level 3 evacuation areas.
The sheriff’s office asks that residents continue to avoid level 3 zones and respect road closures — increased traffic in these areas creates additional safety concerns for firefighters and other first responders operating in these areas.
Continue to monitor your evacuation level area and be ready to evacuate if conditions change. For the latest, see the live evacuation map for Clackamas County here.
Be on the lookout for downed powerlines, roadway debris or other hazards. Report criminal damage or theft to your home by calling non-emergency dispatch at 503-655-8211. Conserve water usage.
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