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Riverside Fire.
Hoodland Fire steps up to battle numerous wildfires posted on 10/01/2020

Smoke blanketed the Mountain for more than a week in September as wildfires raged in Clackamas County and beyond, including the Riverside Fire, which caused the evacuation of Estacada and put Sandy and the rest of the county on high alert.

 

The Riverside Fire began on Tuesday, Sept. 8 and was fueled by dry weather and high winds, conditions that prompted Portland General Electric (PGE) to preemptively cut the power to the Hoodland community.

“We’re really glad they did,” Steven Abel, Hoodland Fire District’s interim Fire Chief said, noting that the end result meant that while food may have spoiled, the community was spared a higher risk of a fire. “(And) I think PGE scored a homerun with the community center they set up.”

Abel also credited PGE for their communication, both in giving an advanced warning of the shutdown and during the time when power was out.

Abel noted that the district’s firefighters were on hand and ready for the event, with volunteers staffing the station. So many people showed up that Abel added they didn’t have enough beds at the main station for them.

Up to nine firefighters were sent out to active fires, including in Estacada and Colton, along with four of the district’s apparatus: a type-3 engine, a water tender and two brush trucks.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” Abel said.

“I think for a fire district this size, to have that talent … the community is getting a great level of service from that," he added.

The Mountain community reached the Level 1 evacuation status, “Be Ready,” and returned to normal on Monday, Sept. 21.

“For once we can see the mountains,” Abel said, adding that the district will follow the lead of the Mount Hood National Forest (MHNF) when it comes to when the burn ban will be lifted.

The MHNF closed during the windstorm and while many areas reopened Saturday, Sept. 26, campfires were still prohibited and users were urged to use caution around downed trees.

As of Sunday, Sept. 27, the Riverside Fire was 34 percent contained, with minimal fire activity remaining beyond smoldering.

According to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, as of Saturday, Sept. 26, the state had experienced nine confirmed fatalities, five missing persons, 2,626 sheltered persons, 5,169 individual assistant registrants (1,696 approved), with approximately 1 million acres burned, 2,291 residences destroyed and 1,503 other structures destroyed.

The Oregon Employment Department has launched Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), providing financial support to people whose ability to work has changed due to the wildfires. People are eligible if they live in the following counties: Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion.

DUA applications, instructions, frequently asked questions and more at the Oregon

Employment Department’s website, http://www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/Disaster.

Applications must be received by Friday, Oct. 23.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) made 21 arrests in Level 2 (“Be Set”) and Level 3 (“Go”) evacuation zones between midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 8 and 6 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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