As wildfires get closer to Portland, residents are being advised to keep an eye out for evacuation advisories.
In neighboring Clackamas County, residents of Estacada, Molalla and Colton are under Level 3 “leave now” evacuation advisories as of Thursday evening; Oregon City, Canby and Mount Hood are Level 2, which means they should be ready to go at a moment’s notice. And that’s making neighbors in Multnomah County nervous.
Sheriff Craig Roberts, in nearby Clackamas County, said they upgraded evacuation levels for several areas Thursday afternoon because two fires are merging near Molalla.
“You know this situation is evolving rapidly at really an unprecedented rate,” said Roberts.
Late Thursday, officials with the Metro regional government and Clackamas County announced they were working to set up the Oregon Convention Center as a shelter for people forced from wildfires. Metro said the center would accommodate up to “400 people with lodging, shower facilities and parking.” But the message didn’t say how soon it would open.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office is expecting extreme and severe fire behavior as the Beachie Creek and Riverside fires merge.
Lt. Rich Chatman with Portland Fire and Rescue said there are no evacuation orders in Multnomah County, but residents should sign up for emergency alerts and keep an eye on changing conditions.
People under a Level 2 ″be prepared to leave" evacuation might want to leave anyway — if they have somewhere safe to go — because winds, low moisture and heat can drive fires quickly.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issued an emergency order Thursday afternoon, which will remain in effect until Sept 24.
Under the order, all city-owned parks are closed to the public. The head of Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management, Mike Myers, has been told to protect the city’s homeless population by directing them to relocate quickly. Under the order, the city may also activate evacuation sites for fire victims.
Portland has sent about 10% of its staff to fight fires in Clackamas County and Southern Oregon.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Oregon City’s and Mount Hood’s evacuation levels.