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Evacuation levels eased again for Oakridge area

Cedar Creek 9-12-22
Bud Sexton
/
Inciweb
A firefighter looks at an area of smoke along a roadside on the Cedar Creek Fire. Photo published by Inciweb on 9-12-22.

UPDATE:

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Lane County Sheriff downgraded evacuations to Level 1 (BE READY) in the following areas:

The City of Westfir
Oakridge between Laurel Butte and the Middle Fork Willamette River west of Fish Hatchery Road

All other parts of Oakridge, including the High Prairie area, remain at Level 2 (BE SET).

A map of current evacuation levels can be found at this website.

Original story:

Evacuation levels have been eased once again in the Oakridge area. The community spent much of the weekend on edge as the Cedar Creek Fire came within a few miles of town.

The Lane County Sheriff’s office said Monday that all of Oakridge, Westfir and High Prairie are now in Level 2. That means people in those areas can return home, but should still be on high alert in case conditions change. Parts of the community were already reduced to Level 2 on Sunday.

The only remaining Level 3 (GO NOW) evacuations are on the east side of the fire, generally to the east of Waldo Lake. Other than some developed campgrounds, the remaining Level 3 areas are largely remote timberland with few, in any, residences.

A map of current Cedar Creek evacuation levels is available at this website.

Another sign of normal life resuming in the Oakridge area: Oregon Highway 58 re-opened to traffic Monday afternoon after being closed for several days due to the fire. The road had partly re-opened over the weekend, giving access to Oakridge from the Eugene area. The highway is now open all the way across Willamette Pass. ODOT says drivers should watch for fire crews in the area and expect delays.

Meanwhile, even as people return to Oakridge, the community remains under alert. Oakridge schools remain closed through the rest of this week, with a tentative re-opening on Sept. 19.

Other services in Oakridge affected by the Cedar Creek Fire include:

  • LTD's "Diamond Express" bus service resumed Monday afternoon with an added stop at the Lane County Fairgrounds, which has served as a shelter for some Oakridge evacuees.
  • Lane Council of Government's Senior Meals site in Oakridge will be closed the rest of this week.
  • Lane Council of Government's Oakridge Senior & Disability Services office will be closed the rest of this week.

With the east wind event winding down over the weekend, utilities say they've largely finished turning power back in the area. Ironically, the the hot, dry windy weather gave way to some light rain on Monday morning, though not enough fell to really make an impact, said Corey Robinson with Northwest Team Six.
"This will not be 'wetting' rain," said Robinson, "but it will be enough to at least wet the ground.

Robinson said crews are continuing to conduct burns to try to bring the fire under control.

“The reason that we’re doing burnout operations is we need to get an edge that we’re able to secure and mop-up and control," he said. "So where the fire is hung up on this unnatural fire edge, we need to bring that down to an area where we can support it with the crews to get the containment to get around this fire.”

As of Monday morning, the Cedar Creek Fire was about 86,734 acres in size, and zero percent contained. The fire started August 1st near Waldo Lake.

Separately, evacuations were also eased in the Salem area after a wildfire flared up there on Friday just south of the city. The Marion County Sheriff's office said Monday that only a handful of areas now remain under Level 1 (BE READY) status:

Vitae Springs Road between Skyline Rd S to River Rd
West side of Skyline Rd from Vitae Springs Rd to Cole Rd S
Orville Rd S
Riversprings Rd to Prospect Ridge

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. 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.”
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