County opening one-stop help for Holiday Farm Fire evacuees at fairgrounds

Noble Horvath

As crews made progress on assessing structures, the county debuted a new centralized resource “one-stop shop” for evacuees at the Lane County Events Center. Holiday Farm Fire Multi-Agency Resource Center established in Eugene Click to expand Oracle’s bid for TikTok Plus, Sony’s PS5 release date, AT&T considers ways for customers to […]

As crews made progress on assessing structures, the county debuted a new centralized resource “one-stop shop” for evacuees at the Lane County Events Center.

Resources and information for evacuees — including the status of their homes and businesses in the assessed area — made its way toward consolidation Wednesday, too. 

Lane County opened up a Multi-Agency Resource Center at the county fairgrounds this week, which is meant to be a one-stop shop for what people impacted by the fire could need. 

“They’ve been already moved out of their own immediate community and are now here in the metro center at various different hotels,” Lane County Commissioners Chair Heather Buck said. “So we want to make it easy for them to get all the resources in one space.” 

The center will be open from noon to 7 p.m. through Friday. Counselors will meet people at check-in when they arrive. Once they go inside the center, they’ll be able to find information including assessments of homes and other buildings, insurance help, veteran services, and senior and disability services, Buck said. McKenzie School District will be also at the center passing out Chromebooks for students.



a couple of people that are standing in a room: Lane County director of operations Greg Rikhoff, left, Mike Finch and Vicki Strand with the University of Oregon work to set up Multi-Agency Resource Center for victims of the Holiday Farm Fire at the Lane County Fairgrounds Sept. 16, 2020.


© Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard
Lane County director of operations Greg Rikhoff, left, Mike Finch and Vicki Strand with the University of Oregon work to set up Multi-Agency Resource Center for victims of the Holiday Farm Fire at the Lane County Fairgrounds Sept. 16, 2020.

Booths for resources are spread out to still account for distance between people, and the county is only allowing about 100 people inside the center at a time on account of COVID-19. 

“But we know that there are thousands of individuals who are affected in the fire area and our hope is to see most of them come over the next three days,” said county spokesperson Devon Ashbridge. 

Holiday Farm Fire status: 8% contained

As fire crews start surveying the damage wrought by the Holiday Farm Fire, they are finding homes and businesses on Cascade Street in Blue River in ruin with some areas still smoldering a week after the blaze raced through the McKenzie Valley.

In addition to search and rescue, Wednesday marked another day of steady fighting of the fire, which reached 170,637 acres as of Wednesday morning. But firefighters had pushed the needle slightly toward containment at 8%, according to Oregon State Fire Marshal spokesperson Brian Richardson.

That was up from about 166,000 acres and 6% containment the day before. There were 783 people fighting the fire Wednesday. 

The high school in Blue River is the staging ground for FEMA’s search and rescue operations that are reporting on the condition of structures and providing that information to local authorities who are using that information in their damage assessments.

So far, an 80-person search and rescue team has assessed about 75% of the 1,018 structures in the area as of Wednesday, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. Of those, the search and rescue team has found that 503 were destroyed, nine are failed (meaning they’re high risk and could suddenly collapse), and 28 were damaged as of Wednesday morning. There was no damage to 230 of those assessed structures.

By the numbers, Wednesday

Details about Holiday Farm Fire resources, as of Wednesday, via the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team:

  • Estimated Size: 170,637 acres
  • Containment: 8%
  • Cause: Unknown
  • Personnel: 783

Assigned Resources:

  • Hand Crews: 22
  • Engines: 51
  • Dozers: 31
  • Water Tenders: 17
  • Other Heavy Equipment: 2
  • Assigned Aircraft: 7
  • Structure Task Forces: 6
  • Injuries: 0

Structures: 

  • 503 have been destroyed (complete destruction of structure)
  • 9 failed (high risk, may be subject to sudden collapse)
  • 28 damaged (medium risk, structure is moderately damaged)
  • 230 no damage reported (low risk, low probability of future collapse)

Evacuation levels downgraded for Mohawk Valley, portion of Hwy 126 corridor

The evacuation level for residents along Highway 126 from Camp Creek Road to the east side of Holden Creek Road, including Deerhorn, has been reduced to Level 2 (“be set”).

The evacuation level remains at Level 3 (“go now”) for residents between milepost 19 and milepost 47 of Highway 126, Lane County announced in a news release.

The evacuation level for the east side of the Mohawk Valley has been reduced to Level 2 for all residents east of the Mohawk River, making the Mohawk Valley Level 2 throughout except where residents were already at Level 1 (“be ready”).

Residents who choose to return to the newly downgraded areas will be required to demonstrate their residential address and be aware that:

  • Roads are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to confirmed residents traveling to and from  residences only.
  • Roads are closed 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. to all non-fire related traffic.
  • Roads may close to all traffic at any time if unsafe conditions are identified.

Residents should be aware that the change to Level 2 reflects that fire danger has only subsided in that area enough to allow residents access to the area so they can make additional preparations for their homes, livestock or other animals. They should expect that if fire behavior increases these areas may return to Level 3 and residents must be able to leave again at a moment’s notice.

Level 2 means there is significant danger and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Emergency responders may not have time to provide you with additional notice if danger increases.

Goodwill Industries stores ’rounding up’ for donations

Goodwill Industries of Lane and South Coast Counties will expand the American Red Cross’s efforts to assist individuals affected by Oregon wildfires with a “Round-up Campaign” at Goodwill stores.

Goodwill stores shoppers can contribute to the Red Cross by rounding up any purchase or making a walk-in donation at any register from Thursday through Sept. 30 in Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, Junction City, Brookings,  Florence and North Bend. Goodwill will then match any contribution.

“Our hearts go out to those impacted by these devastating wildfires and we hope Goodwill’s matching funds raised by our generous communities will assist the Red Cross Cascades,” Goodwill spokesperson Libby Schafermeyer said in a press release.

Goodwill also provided $10,000 in assistance to the United Way of Lane County to support its efforts to assist McKenzie Valley organizations working to rebuild communities devastated by fires.

For more information, visit www.goodwill-oregon.org.

Eugene opens second overnight smoke respite shelter

The City of Eugene was scheduled to open a second overnight smoke respite shelter Wednesday at noon. Located at 717 Highway 99N and operated by St. Vincent de Paul, the site also houses a Dusk to Dawn daytime shelter.

Capacity at the overnight respite center is 16 vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness, the city said in a news release. The duration of the shelter will be determined in an ongoing basis.

This new shelter is in addition to the 24/7 respite center operated by the City of Eugene at the Lane Events Center/Fairground. The Lane Events shelter is open until 8 a.m. Friday. Staff will assess the need for continued clean air shelter space as air quality forecasts are updated.

Access to both overnight respite centers is available through referral through White Bird, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 341 E. 12th Ave., or their 24-hour crisis line, 541-687-4000.

In addition, the Hilyard Community Center is open as a daytime clean air shelter from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday.

In addition to the city-operated smoke respite shelters, the American Red Cross has set up a shelter at Churchill High School for evacuees of the fire. The Red Cross is the lead organization in providing space for fire evacuees.

Holiday Farm Fire at 8% containment, 170,000+ acres

Wednesday marked another day of steady firefighting and the opening of a new centralized resource center for evacuees, as the Holiday Farm Fire topped 170,000 acres burned in the McKenzie Valley since last week. 

The fire reached 170,637 acres as of Wednesday morning or day 10, but firefighters had pushed the needle slightly toward containment at 8%, according to Oregon State Fire Marshal spokesperson Brian Richardson. 

This was up from about 166,000 acres and 6% containment the day before. 

The fire activity has remained largely the same day-to-day this week. However, there were some spot fires Tuesday night around Deerhorn Road and in the northern end of the fire east of Marcola, which crews put out, Richardson said.

Resources and information for evacuees and people displaced by the fire made way toward consolidation Wednesday too. 

Lane County coordinated a Multi-Agency Resource Center at the county fairgrounds, which is meant to be a “one-stop shop” for what people impacted by the fire could need. 

“They’ve been already moved out of their own immediate community and are now here in the metro center at various different hotels,” Lane County Commissioners Chair Heather Buck said. “So we want to make it easy for them to get all the resources in one space.” 

The center will be open from noon to 7 p.m. through Friday. Counselors will meet people at check in when they arrive. Once they go inside the center, they’ll be able to find information including assessments of homes and other buildings, insurance help, veteran services, and senior and disability services, Buck said. McKenzie School District will also be at the center passing out Chromebooks for students.

Presidential emergency declaration issued for Oregon

SALEM — President Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration for Oregon due to the deadly wildfires that have burned across the state and federal officials have also declared a public health emergency as dangerous, smoky conditions continue.

The major disaster declaration, issued late Tuesday, allows a range of federal help for people and public infrastructure affected by the blazes. The public health emergency declaration will give hospitals and other organizations in the state more flexibility to meet the needs of people who are on Medicare and Medicaid.

Wildfires raging across the state have burned more than 1,300 square miles (3,360 square kilometers). At least eight people have been killed.

And authorities say more than 1,140 residences have also been destroyed by the blazes and 579 other structures decimated.

— The Associated Press



an old car parked in a parking lot: Blue River, Ore., lies in ruin Sept. 15, 2020 eight days after the Holiday Farm Fire swept through its business district. (pool photo by Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard)


© Andy Nelson, The Register-Guard
Blue River, Ore., lies in ruin Sept. 15, 2020 eight days after the Holiday Farm Fire swept through its business district. (pool photo by Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard)

Evacuation notice canceled for some Thurston-area residents

The Level 1 (“be ready”) evacuation level for certain residents in the Thurston area prompted by the Holiday Farm Fire has been canceled, Lane County said at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. 

The area includes:

Residents north of Main Street and west of 75th Street, which is generally inside Springfield city limits.

The evacuation level remains at Level 1 (“be ready”) south of Main Street and east of Bob Straub Parkway in the Thurston area.

Holiday Farm Fire destroyed 315 structures

The Holiday Farm Fire has destroyed 315 structures, according to the latest figures released Tuesday.

A search and rescue team has completed evaluations of about 30% of the 1,018 structures within the fire perimeter. Of the 432 commercial buildings, residences and outbuildings evaluated, 315 have been destroyed or failed, 14 were damaged and 102 had no damage, according to a news release from the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The search and rescue team started at the eastern edge of the fire in the community of Rainbow and has been working west down the Highway 126 corridor. The team expected to assess structures in Blue River on Tuesday, the release said.

Lane County Emergency Management and other public safety agencies on Sunday began the process of performing structural assessments on homes within the perimeter of the fire.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and the 80-person search and rescue team have been working within the fire zone to search for missing persons and to assess structures. The teams were able to safely gain access to the area Sunday, according to a news release from Lane County. 

“The structure assessment process is anticipated to be a lengthy process due to the number of homes in the fire perimeter, hazards in the area, and ongoing firefighting operations,” the county release said.

In an effort to get the data to residents as quickly as possible, the county is making the information available as the assessments are completed, the release said.

The initial collection of assessment information is now available, and a call center has been set up to allow those affected by the fire to receive information about their residences within this area. Homeowners and residents can call 541-682-3977 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. to receive their assessment information.

For residents and homeowners who would prefer to learn the status of their home assessment in person, a resource center will be available starting Wednesday.

The resource center will include representatives from utility companies, Lane County Elections, insurance companies, housing support agencies, Senior and Disabled Services, Environmental Health, Lane County Assessment and Taxation, waste and debris disposal coordinators, permit and land management staff, faith-based services and support, as well as mental health and medical support.

The resource center will also be available to those that have learned the status of their home or residence over the telephone and would like more information about those resources. It will be open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week from noon to 7 p.m. at the Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Avenue in Eugene.

There is additional support available for those who have been affected by the Holiday Farm Fire:

Emotional Support Line: 1-800-923-HELP (4357)

Disaster Stress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. The line is available in 100 languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

In-person crisis support with Lane County Behavioral Health: The Graduate Hotel (66 E. Sixth Ave.), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Oregon reduces number of confirmed wildfire fatalities

SALEM — Authorities in Oregon have reduced the confirmed number of fatalities from recent wildfires in the state from 10 to eight.

The state’s Office of Emergency Management on Tuesday said two of the reported fatalities were later identified as animal remains. The number of missing persons was also reduced, from 22 to 16.

On Tuesday the Marion County Sheriff’s office released identifications for two of those killed: Cathy Cook, 71, and Justin Cook, 41, both of Lyons, Oregon. The Cooks were mother and son and their remains were located near their property. The Albany Democrat-Herald reports that Justin Cook worked at numerous restaurants and catering businesses in the Albany and Corvallis area.

Officials also provided the number of residences that have been destroyed by Oregon’s wildfires — 1,145. In addition, 579 other structures have been decimated as well.

The number of people being sheltered after being forced to evacuate in Oregon is 3,185. Authorities say most have been placed in non-congregate settings to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19.

— The Associated Press

Alaska Airlines resumes flights with new smoke protocols

SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines has resumed flights in and out of Portland and Spokane with new wildfire smoke protocols.

Airline officials halted flights in those and some smaller airports in both states because of wildfires in the West that have been creating thick smoke and haze. Alaska said Monday they made the difficult decision to stop their operations to keep employees and guests safe.

The airline is currently operating a reduced schedule, canceling at least 20 afternoon and evening flights through PDX, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

“The 24-hour suspension of flights allowed us time to implement a new safety protocol that directs our employees to work a reduced number of hours outside when there’s poor air quality,” Alaska said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

The Seattle-based airline is the busiest one serving PDX. The suspension also applied to sister airline Horizon Air.

The Port of Portland, which runs the airport, said no other airline has taken a similar step. It said Alaska canceled 74 flights Monday.

Wildfires that began last week burned more than 1 million acres across the state and created atrocious atmospheric conditions in Portland and many other cities. Oregon health authorities urged businesses to shut down outdoor operations and send their workers home.

“Our employees’ exposure over the course of their shifts will be limited to keep their air intake below unhealthy levels,” Alaska said. “To help keep them safe, they will have access to personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks.”

— The Associated Press

Two more Marion County fire victims identified

Fire investigators working in the Santiam Canyon have identified two people previously reported missing following the fires that swept the area one week ago.

Justin Cook, 41, and Cathy Cook, 71, were located near their property in the 32000 block of North Fork Lane SE, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s office.

Officials say one person reported missing remains unaccounted for. 

Deputies continue to ask families to report any missing persons to the sheriff’s office non-emergency dispatch center at 503-588-5032.

— Salem Statesman Journal

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Updates: County opening one-stop help for Holiday Farm Fire evacuees at fairgrounds

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