News, Oregon, wildfire

Brush up now on wildfire evacuation levels

It’s been a wet spring in this region, but with summer weather on the way, fire danger will soon rise. 

For those who live in and at the edge of wilderness areas, now is the time to brush up on evacuation procedures, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said. 

Oregon has a three-tiered evacuation system, known as “BE READY. BE SET. GO NOW!”

“With impacts ranging from the tragic loss of lives, homes and businesses, to safely evacuating when threatened by wildfire, to poor air quality caused by smoke, as well as road and trail closures—most Oregonians are all too familiar with our state’s steady increase in wildfire activity over the past decade,” said OEM Director Andrew Phelps. “Wildfire Awareness Month is a time when state agencies and partners come together to ensure the public has access to resources to prepare for wildfires while supporting those still recovering from previous events. Our shared goal is to help Oregonians plan so they know what to do before, during and after a wildfire and take actions to keep themselves and their communities safe. Evacuation readiness is a key component to staying safe when wildfires strike.”

Graphic Courtesy OEM

Level One (“BE READY”), coded green, means be ready to evacuate. 

“Older adults, families with children, people with disabilities, livestock and pet owners, and those with limited access to transportation should consider evacuating at Level One,” OEM said.

The agency advised people in an area under a Level One evacuation level to check in with their neighbors and share information. 

During any period of high fire danger it’s always a good idea to check in with neighbors and have a plan to pool resources to move pets, livestock, and people, if necessary. Government emergency notification systems don’t always work as intended.

During the deadly 2020 Labor Day wildfires, Jackson County failed to notify many residents of the Almeda Fire racing toward homes in Talent and Phoenix, resulting in a scramble to escape the flames that destroyed entire neighborhoods. 

“Oregonians should be aware of fire risk in their area, stay informed, and actively take steps to prepare themselves to reduce their risk from wildfire,” OEM said, and listed the following as resources to check out. 

Level Two (“BE SET”), coded yellow, means be set to evacuate. 

Level two means there is significant danger in the area and people should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. 

“Voluntary evacuation at Level Two is recommended, especially if people need extra time or have livestock,” OEM said, adding that “Individuals should:

  • Continue to stay informed and alert, checking for updates through local city and county websites, social media, TV and radio.
  • Use or call 511 for road closure information.
  • Consider relocating to a safe place outside of the affected area.
  • Inform loved ones of plans and destinations.”

Level Three, (“GO NOW”) coded red, means GO NOW – Leave Immediately! 

Level three means there is extreme danger in the area and staying threatens the safety of individuals and possibly emergency responders who may not be able to help those who stayed behind. At Level Three, it’s too late to gather belongings or protect your home, OEM said. It’s simply time to go.

“Now is the time to act,” the OEM said:

  • Grab the go-kit.
  • Follow the emergency plan.
  • Leave as fast as safely possible.
  • Upon evacuating, drive carefully; turn on headlights and follow traffic safety warnings and instructions from local authorities.

“Following an evacuation, people should not return to the area until public safety officials announce it is safe,” OEM added.

Find more information and resources at

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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