Parts of the West Coast are experiencing very unhealthy and dangerous air and wildfires for the first time ever. The Labor Day wildfires in Oregon have burned more than half a million acres, and the Klamath Falls Fire, which has lost more than 1,000 acres of its 2,500-acre area, was worst affected. The fire threatens the entire state of Oregon, as well as parts of Washington, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, California and Nevada.
Evacuation orders have been issued for the Oregon Forestry Commission, now known as the Echo Mountain Complex. The fire now includes the Santiam fire, and the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires are converging near Detroit, Oregon. It's related to the Forest Service - the Beachies Creek fire that burned in September, but the wildfire has gripped the Klamath Falls area, where residents had to be evacuated from their homes and businesses.
Units and helicopters were activated to assist the Oregon Department of Forestry and local authorities in tackling the wildfire. The fire is being brought under control by the U.S. Forest Service's Office of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon State Police.
The fire brigade is doing well, and a rescue team has been deployed north of Klamath Falls along Highway 242. The fire broke out on the south side of the road near the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 24 and is about half contained, according to the US Forest Service. Evacuations are already in effect and Oregon Coast Community College in Newport is currently being evacuated until September 17, 2020. A full list of evacuations in the county and a map of evacuation zones can be found here. In addition to this year's fire, the county says there are four active wildfires that have led to evacuations in recent years, most recently in August 2015.
Some of the fires burning near and in central Oregon include three separate fires, one of which is 0% contained, combined with two smaller fires in the Santiam State Forest and one on the west side of Klamath Falls. In Santa Rosa County, the Santiam State Forest has its own firefighting efforts, as a 47,465-acre forest managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry has spread north, west, east and southwest along Highway 242 and Highway 24.
The fire started four miles northwest of Ashland, Oregon, and has burned out on one acre (20% contained) since September 11.
The Oregon Department of Forestry was called to the blaze near Otis on September 11 by the Grants Pass Fire Department and the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office. The Grants Pass Fire was supported at the scene by the Oregon Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Highway Patrol and Oregon Fire and Rescue.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the use of federal funds to help fight the fire. The Rogue Credit Union has established a Southern Oregon Fire Relief Fund to bring together all donations from people affected by the fires in Almeda, Glendower and Obenchain. The agency says there are no evacuation orders in place, but more than 1,000 firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State Police and Oregon Highway Patrol have responded.
A major fire in southern Oregon has triggered evacuation orders in Almeda, Glendower and Obenchain counties and in the town of Klamath Falls. The fire was sparked by lightning earlier this week in a remote area of Columbia River Gorge in southwest Oregon. The blazes, which destroyed hundreds of homes and killed at least nine people, have also scorched some of Oregon's most famous hiking trails - famous hiking trails, a popular national park and raging through a white-water rafting mecca.
Central Oregon is relatively smoke-free, though the Deschutes County Fairgrounds is listed as a "no-fly zone" for people fleeing the fires. In Central Oregon, the CentralOregon Fire Information Web site provides daily updates on fires in the region and recommends that people receive fire alerts for the area they are required to. The wildfires have been destroyed by the Lincoln County blaze, while other large fires are burning in Oregon. Oregon has experienced a total solar eclipse, shut down the city of Portland during the 2017 snowpocalypse and is dealing with massive wildfires, according to the National Weather Service.
Brown called the circumstances of the fires that broke out Monday "unprecedented" and said Oregon now faces a massive nationwide fire emergency. Despite recent rainfall and predicted rainfall, the risk of the fires spreading has a significant impact on the state's water supply and quality, according to the software currently used by the U.S. Forest Service's Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Natural Resources. The fire east of Lincoln City was 90 percent contained, Oregon Fire and Rescue Chief Mark Brown said Tuesday.
Four of the two fires have remained the same in the past 24 hours, and just over 11,000 hectares have burned in the region, he said. Grafe, who heads the forestry department, said people in western Oregon should prepare for a moment. This will allow the thousands of firefighters who are working on more than a dozen major fires to be more proactive.