Extreme fire weather over the weekend spread the Cedar Creek Fire near Waldo Lake and Oakridge to more than 85,900 acres, cutting power to thousands and forcing them to leave their homes. As cooler temperatures have started to move in, the fire weather has started to calm down.
The dry weather is still a worry, but fire officials think that cooler temperatures and a thick layer of smoke will slow down fire activity. After the Lane County Sheriff’s Office lowered several evacuation levels near the Cedar Creek Fire on Sunday, some Oakridge residents were able to go back home.
Since Friday night, Highway 58 had been closed, but it is now open to milepost 36 east of Oakridge. From milepost 37, east of Oakridge, to milepost 62, at Willamette Pass, Highway 58 is still closed. Also, Lane County closed its temporary evacuation point at Lane Community College on Sunday afternoon.
It also closed its non-emergency call center and told people to call 211 instead. Level 2 “be ready” evacuation notices have been lowered for the city of Westfir and parts of Oakridge west of Salmon Creek, south of Laurel Butte Road, and north of the Middle Fork Willamette River.
“While every effort is being made to protect the communities of Oakridge, Westfir, and High Prairie, conditions may require moving back to a level 3 “go now” evacuation notice in some or all of these areas, and that could happen at any time,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release on Sunday.
The sheriff’s office told people who have trouble moving around, have special needs, or are sick not to go back to the level 2 areas. Also, people who don’t have reliable transportation or who have large animals or pets that might be hard to move shouldn’t go back yet.
Lane County Animal Services will keep running the large animal evacuation shelter at the Lane Events Center for people in level 2 and level 3 evacuation zones. Even though people in level 2 evacuation areas were able to go back home, many levels 3 evacuation areas are still in place, making it impossible for people to get to their homes.
The level 3 “go now” evacuation order is still in place for the High Prairie area, which includes High Prairie Road, Brock Road, Bar BL Ranch Road, Nubian Way, Mountain View Road, and Huckleberry Lane. Also, the level 3 evacuation order means that Westfir-Oakridge Road is from the city limits of Westfir to Roberts Road.
McFarland Road, and Oakridge north of Laurel Butte Road, east of Salmon Creek, are still closed. The level 3 evacuation order is still in place for the Hills Creek Reservoir area south of Highway 58 and Green waters Park. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and fire teams met to talk about how to change the evacuation notices.
Fire Grows To 85,926 Acres Overnight, Threatens 2,230 Homes
Even though evacuations were made less strict, the Cedar Creek Fire grew to 85,926 acres and is no longer contained. Officials with the fire department said the fire got out of control early Sunday morning after it broke through containment lines.
About 7 miles north of Highway 58, south of Forest Service Road 19, and east of Eagle Butte, the fire is still going strong. On Saturday night, the firefighters set off controlled fires near Eagle Butte, which is 5 miles northeast of Oakridge.
The Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal has put together seven task forces and an incident management team to protect homes, businesses, and important infrastructure in the area. Fire officials say that as of Sunday morning, 2,230 homes and 443 businesses are in danger from the fire.
No buildings or sheds have been burned down. On the east side of the fire, most of the work is going into making fire breaks along the existing rows and doing burn-outs to get rid of fuels. Heavy equipment will be brought to the site to be used near Cultus Lake, Little Cultus Lake, the Cascade Lakes Highway, and forest service roads.
Fire breaks on the east side of the fire are expected to take most of the week to finish. Extreme weather that helped the fire spread over the weekend has calmed down, and the winds have died down. The dry weather is still a worry, but fire officials think that cooler temperatures and a thick layer of smoke will slow down fire activity.
Also, people are getting ready to build around Lava Lake and are looking at the areas around Odell Lake. Thursday, the Cedar Creek Fire was at 33,100 acres, but Friday, strong east winds came and the fire grew quickly. Friday and Saturday, the fire kept getting bigger. On August 1, lightning strikes sparked the fire.
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