Good news first: The Riverside Fire is now partially contained for the first time since it broke out Sept. 8, Canby Fire District officials tell The Canby Current.
The bad news? Estimated containment is at only 3% — and growth is still possible in back-country areas.
“The good news is most of the area that has impact on the populated areas is contained due to the hard work by local firefighters,” Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis said.
Even 3% is “a large number, in light of the size of this fire,” Incident Commander Alan Sinclair reported at a Clackamas County press conference Wednesday. “There is a lot of fire on the landscape. This is going to be a long-duration incident. Our focus is to get the communities protected, so we can get people back to their homes.”
The Riverside Fire has burned nearly 136,000 acres in Clackamas County and was human-caused, forestry officials report.
Meanwhile, the Dowty Fire — located near Estacada — is 1,452 acres, 30% lined. The fire has not moved or grown in size for a couple of days. Crews continue to patrol and put out hot spots.
The Wilhoit Fire near Molalla is at 591 acres and is 100% lined, and 50% mopped up. The Unger Fire near Colton is at 496 acres and is also 100% lined.
“The inversion will remain in place with hazardous air quality through Thursday,” Davis said Wednesday. “Winds are to pick up today out of the west that will start moving the inversion air. Moisture is expected tomorrow and throughout the next five days.”
The mist and moisture that remains in the forecast throughout this week are expected to move further into the region, allowing firefighters to increase containment on both Riverside and the even-larger Beachie Creek Fire in Marion County.
Evacuation orders were lifted for Canby, Oregon City and other areas west of Highway 213 early Wednesday afternoon. Other evacuation areas around the Riverside conflag were downgraded, including parts of Molalla being rolled back to level 1 — “Get Ready.”
Canby’s paramedics division chief, Matt Dale, was dispatched Monday to lead a local task force against the Brattain conflagration in Lake County. All other firefighters and assets, including those serving in Riverside, have returned home with no injuries.
Air quality remains extremely unhealthy — and high on the hazardous index — throughout Clackamas County. Air quality levels in the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley are at record lows, and a Department of Environmental Quality advisory remains in effect through at least Thursday.
Davis advises residents to stay inside as much as possible, and wear an N95 mask if you have to go out.
Fire danger in the entire region is extreme, with no burning whatsoever allowed.
Even with the lifting of the evacuation orders in new areas, residents are urged to avoid any recreational or outdoor burning; avoid any outdoor open flames (i.e., grills, lanterns, torches, etc.); avoid using any gas, electric or battery-powered yard equipment that may get hot or create sparks and avoid smoking outdoors.
Residents are also encouraged to create a “defensible space” on their properties by raking, sweeping or moving debris, vegetation or combustible items away from homes and outbuildings, and reduce water use as much as possible: Save it for fighting fires.
Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911.