Beachie Creek Fire Update, September 16, 2020

Beachie Creek Fire Update for Wednesday, September 16, 2020 

Salem, Ore. –Firefighters continue to make good progress securing the perimeter of the Beachie Creek Fire. As a result of their efforts, the fire is 20% contained. Following an extensive assessment by crews, fire officials determined that 470 residences, 35 commercial structures, and 783 minor nonresidential structures were destroyed by the fire. Additionally, 46 residences, 5 commercial structures, and 83 minor nonresidential structures were damaged. 

Crews and heavy equipment continue to connect and strengthen control line on the west and northwest sides of the fire.  Firefighters continue to work with landowners on the southeastern perimeter to secure control lines. The increased acreage in fire size is not due to fire spread over the past 48 hours but because aerial assessments are being completed, providing more accurate measurements and improved mapping. Transfer of command from Northwest Incident Management Team 13 to Southwest Incident Management Team 2 will take place this evening. The teams have been working closely over the last 24 hours to ensure a seamless transition of command.  

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 5,845 structures are at Level 3 evacuations and another 3,961 are in level 2 evacuations.  It is imperative to protect first responders and communities 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: Wednesday will begin with another fog layer likely to dissipate by mid-day. It is expected to be hotter and drier today with temperatures in the 70s, forecasted minimum relative humidity of 35-50 percent across the fire, and as low as 25 percent on ridges. This could result in an increase in fire behavior. A low pressure system bringing rain to the area is forecasted for Thursday night and Friday. 

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. 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. 

Public information:  Facebook: facebook.com/BeachieCreek  E-mail: [email protected]   Phone: 541-583-0526, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Inciweb  https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7001/  Oregon Smoke Blog https://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/p/air-quality-now.html 

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