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Search And Rescue Operations To Begin ‘Soon’ East Of Salem

Marion County Sheriff's Office

Thousands of people who fled a massive wildfire east of Salem are still waiting to hear if their homes are still standing.

Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast said Wednesday that conditions are still too dangerous to search for survivors, much less evaluate damage to property.

“We are going to continue to work with fire and try to figure out when we can get back up in there and then provide some search and rescue operations when we can," he said. "We’re just in the process now in trying to assess those things to figure out those things to figure out when we can get up there and figure out what and where we can get to.”

Kast said he hopes that can happen soon. But he gave no estimate for when homeowners can safely return to check on their properties.

Videos taken by people fleeing the flames appear to show widespread damage in towns along Highway 22 in the Santiam Canyon.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”