Fire, Powerline Fire, Washington County

September 10 Morning Update

Groner K-8 school in Scholls on Wednesday, September 9. Photo: Brad Burke

The sky is a sickly yellow-orange this morning from the sunlight filtering through air choked with smoke and ash as wildfires continue across the western United States and in Oregon. Here are quick updates on the situation in our region.

The Powerline Fire near Cherry Grove now has around 100 firefighters and other personnel working on the fire; yesterday, after a helicopter experienced mechanical issues, “Super Scooper” planes were deployed to assist on the fire. Below is a dramatic video of one of these planes in operation sent to us from the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Current evacuation orders remain in place; the evacuation point was moved to Mountain Side High School, located at 12500 SW 175th Avenue in Beaverton.

Those with large animals who need a place to stay due to wildfire evacuations can bring them to the Washington County fairgrounds in Hillsboro. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office posse can care for them overnight if owners are unable to stay with them, but owners must provide daily care. Camping and RV sites are also available. The county asked that those needing this service call ahead to allow for preparations to be made at 503-314-3433.

Banks’ Bighorn Logging is one of the private contract crews working on local fires; according to the company’s Facebook page, they have crews at the Powerline Fire and Pike Fire.

The Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire between Newberg and Hillsboro was estimated to be at 2,000 acres on Wednesday.

In Tillamook County, the Pike Fire burning east of Bay City is estimated to be at 175 acres in size. More info here.

The Tillamook and other state forests were closed yesterday by order of the Oregon Department of Forestry. More information can be read on that here.

In an email sent close to midnight on Wednesday, state foresters tasked with protecting the Tillamook Forest and other adjacent regions noted that fire danger remained high.

“Conditions are explosive and a fire in slash would be almost impossible for us. The system is completely empty of resources. What we have locally is what we have, and burning forest won’t even register on the priority list to get help,” the email read.

A fire on Highway 6 a few miles outside of Tillamook was quickly halted, according to the email.

A brief power outage for West Oregon Electric Co-op customers in Timber and a few other areas occurred last night.

“BPA had to drop our feed from Timber because of power poles that were on fire. Luckily we had a crew responding to another outage and we were able to switch the feed from Timber to Warren. Redundancy is a good thing,” the utility co-op said in a message on their Facebook page.

The Banks Fire District gave a morning update, noting their crews are assisting at the Powerline Fire and others.

“The Banks Fire District continues to have no fires or evacuation orders. BUT THE THREAT IS REAL. We are still in EXTREME FIRE DANGER. Please do not become complacent as we could be just one spark away from disaster. Please continue to help us by doing your part to avoid ANY outside activity that could cause a spark. That is not just a campfire, but could be using a chain saw, mowing, target shooting etc. For those of you with respiratory or other medical conditions that may be made worse with poor air quality, stay indoors and keep the windows closed. It is a good time to work on your emergency kits should you find yourself having no power, or having to evacuate. Now is the time to plan,” said Banks Fire District PIO Scott Adams.

This article originally said Tuesday when an email from ODF was sent, it was Wednesday.

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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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