Beachie Creek Fire Update, September 15, 2020

eachie Creek Fire Update for Tuesday, September 15, 2020 

Salem, Ore. – The increased acreage in fire size reported today is not due to fire spread over the past 24 hours but because an aerial assessment was completed. This allowed for a more accurate measure and improved mapping of the fire. Firefighters will resume work Tuesday to secure the perimeter of the Beachie Creek Fire. Crews and heavy equipment continue to connect and strengthen existing control line together on the west and northwest portions of the fire. Good progress was made in this area over the last couple days. Firefighters continue to work with landowners on the southeastern perimeter of the fire to build and secure control lines in that area. Firefighters will also continue mopping up and systematically assessing damage to structures inside the fire. Due to these efforts, firefighters have  achieved 15% containment.  

The Beachie Creek Fire and the Riverside Fire remain about one mile apart. Officials from nearby fires are coordinating strategies to minimize fire growth and stabilize incidents. Extremely dry vegetation 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. Based on current weather, it is anticipated that a future merger would not result in dynamic fire behavior as seen last week.  

Fire officials are working 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 jeopardizes firefighting and rescue operations, puts lives at risk, and potentially increases the time it will take to return residents to their communities. 

WEATHER:  Inversions are likely to persist on the west side of the fire on Tuesday. High temperatures will be in the upper 60s to low 70s, with forecasted minimum relative humidity of 50 – 60 percent on the west side of the fire. Relative humidity is expected to be lower, 30-45 percent, on the east side of the fire and at elevations above 2,500 feet. The weather system forecasted to bring rain on Tuesday stalled and is too far west to add moisture to the fire. A low pressure system is forecasted for later this week with higher chances of rain. 

SAFETY: Members of the public are encouraged to heed local evacuation orders issued by the county sheriff’s office and emergency notification systems. Know the 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 today. This will lead to “unhealthy” and possibly “hazardous” conditions. Individuals with respiratory issues may find themselves affected by the intense smoke. Some mid-level cloud movement may allow for slight improvements to air quality mid-day, Tuesday. 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: The entire Willamette National Forest is closed to all recreation including campgrounds, trails, days use areas, and boat ramps. Roads on the forest are closed to the public unless being used to evacuate. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in the vicinity of the fire and State lands managed by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) including the Santiam State Forest are also closed to the public. Go to InciWeb (link below) for more information about closures in the area. 

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