Salem, Ore. – Once the dense fog begins to dissipate, firefighters will resume work Sunday around the perimeter of the Beachie Creek Fire. Firefighters will begin mopping up and systematically accessing damage to structures inside the fire. Crews and heavy equipment will work Sunday to tie the pieces of existing control line together on the west and northwest portions of the fire. Line construction and reinforcement efforts which began Saturday south of Highway 22 will continue Sunday. Firefighters are working with landowners on the southeastern perimeter of the fire to build and secure control lines along that section of the fire.
The Beachie Creek Fire and the Riverside Fire remain about one mile apart. Despite the rumors, a merger of the two fires is not imminent. The current combination of winds, record dry forests, and a lack of natural holding features in the Table Rock Wilderness and surrounding areas mean it is still possible the fires could burn together in the coming days. Based on current weather, it is anticipated that a future merger would not result in dynamic fire behavior as seen in the last week.
Fire officials continue to work closely with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, ODOT and the Oregon State Police to coordinate recovery efforts along the Santiam Canyon. Currently 16,776 structures are at Level 3 evacuations and another 18,528 homes in level 2 evacuations. It is imperative to protect first responders and communities in the path of the fire that everyone heeds fire and law enforcement road closures and evacuations. Anyone who enters the fire perimeter is jeopardizing firefighting and rescue operations, increasing the time it will take to return residents to their communities and putting lives at risk.
WEATHER: High pressure aloft will continue to slowly weaken Sunday and Monday. That means there could be some improvement in overall air quality Sunday afternoon, but valley inversions are likely to be persistent through the day. High temperatures Sunday will generally be in the upper 60s to low 70s, with forecast minimum relative humidity of 40-50 percent. The weather pattern is predicted to change early next week, with a good change of some rain Monday night and Tuesday.
SAFETY: Members of the public are encouraged to heed local evacuation orders issued by the county sheriff’s office and emergency notification systems. Know each Ready, Set, Go levels and make appropriate preparations. READY your belongings; SET your things at the door or prepack them in your car; GO and leave immediately.
SMOKE: Smoke will continue to be heavy across the area of the Beachie Creek Fire again on Sunday. This will lead to “unhealthy” and possibly “hazardous” conditions. Individuals with respiratory issues may find themselves affected by the intense smoke. Areas closest to fires – near Detroit, Florence, Chiloquin and Eugene – are having the worst smoke impacts. Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on DEQ’s Air Quality Index or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone. CLOSURES: Willamette National Forest roads, trails, and lands around the fire area are closed. View the official order (Order 06-18- 04-20-13) or go to InciWeb (link below) for a list and map of the closed roads, trails, and recreation sites.