Weather brings mixed bag for areas hit by wildfires

The sun can be seen behind the clouds and above City Hall, through the smokey haze, Thursday afternoon in Creswell, OR.

The rain might be coming, but it’s bringing potential landslides and flooding with it. And air quality remained poor Thursday afternoon in the southern Willamette Valley. As of 4:45 p.m, air quality in Creswell and Cottage Grove was 164 (very unhealthy) and Springfield was at 202 (very unhealthy).


Don’t overlook flu shots, especially this year, according to Thea Petersen, a doctor with the PeaceHealth Medical Group in Cottage Grove. The family medicine physician released a  statement Thursday through the hospital regarding the importance of flu shots this season: 

Thea Petersen, M.D.

“This year it is more important than ever to get the seasonal flu vaccine. The flu, or influenza, is a potentially serious viral illness that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. The flu can affect people differently, but every year millions of people around the world get the flu, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands die from flu-related complications. The annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others against influenza.

“The best time to get your flu shot if you live in Oregon is late September through October. It takes up to two weeks to develop enough antibodies to protect you from influenza and the flu season in Oregon typically runs from December to March. All people ages 6 months and older should get the flu shot and adults over age 65 can get the high-dose vaccine or the standard vaccine. The flu shot does not put you at higher risk of getting COVID-19 (the illness caused by the novel coronavirus) and does not give you the flu either. It is especially important during this pandemic to keep our community healthy and keep people out of the hospital with flu-related illness. Thank you for doing your part to keep our community healthy by getting your flu shot.”


Red Cross officials and IHG have found a solution to keep the evacuees of the McKenzie area fires at the Holiday Inn Express in Eugene.

“We currently have a new extended contract until Oct. 3,” said Sarah Smith, general manager of the Holiday Inn. “We will be asking our local hotel partners and Travel Lane County to assist in the relocation of our future guests who were coming to deliver their students back to the university area.”

On Sept. 8, Red Cross travel liaisons reached out to the Holiday Inn Express in Eugene to book rooms for victims of the Holiday Farm wildfire in the McKenzie River area. 

Holiday Inn Express’ general manager, employees and owners called in all staff to prep rooms for incoming evacuees. “As a company with owners and employees who live in and love this community, we were happy to do our part to help displaced members of our community. Knowing the immediate need for these evacuees, we also went against our service-animal-only pet policy to allow multiple cats and dogs per room,” Smith said.

At that time, the Red Cross asked for four-day reservations for 74 evacuee rooms, including 131 adults and 33 children.

On Sept. 9, the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express reached out to the Red Cross to offer longer stays to evacuees up to Sept. 18, when the hotel already had contractual bookings for students moving into the University of Oregon. The Red Cross contractually agreed to have the evacuees stay until Sept. 17.

“We have partnered with Red Cross and IHG’s Incident Team to extend all our evacuees and Red Cross staff until Oct. 3,” Smith said. Evacuees and others were notified Thursday morning.


The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for a portions of the Cascade foothills, including portions of the following counties, Lane, Linn, Douglas, Hood River, Multnomah, Clackamas, Marion, Coos, Jackson, and Klamath through Friday morning.

Heavy rain can trigger landslides, rock fall, and debris flows in steep terrain, and the risk is higher in burn areas. 

Find the latest information at alerts.weather.gov

Debris flows are rapidly moving, extremely destructive landslides. They can contain boulders and logs transported in a fast-moving soil and water slurry down steep hillsides and through narrow canyons. They can easily travel a mile or more. A debris flow moves faster than a person can run. People, structures and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk.

If your home, work, or route is in a watch area:

* Stay alert. Track the flood watch by radio, TV, weather radio or online. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.

* Listen. Unusual sounds might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. If you think there is danger of a landslide, leave immediately.

* Watch the water. If water in a stream or creek suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water flowing suddenly decreases or increases, this is a warning that the flow has been affected upstream. You should immediately leave the area because a debris flow may soon be coming downstream.

* Travel with extreme caution. Assume roads are not safe. Be alert when driving, especially at night. Embankments along roadsides may fail, sending rock and debris onto the road.

For more landslide and debris flow information: oregongeology.org/Landslide/debrisflow.htm


Oregon fire officials are expecting that as visibility improves, a large number of helicopters and planes will soon take flight and start engaging in the many wildfires in the state. They are appealing to  drone enthusiasts to not fly their equipment while skies over Oregon are so busy.

“We’re looking to Oregonians statewide to help us make the most of these resources and ensure our people stay safe by keeping their personal drones on the ground. If you fly, we can’t,” said Doug Grate, ODF’s chief of fire protection.

Grafe said two key ways firefighters use aviation assets is to actively fight fires using water and retardant drops and to provide an aerial view of the fires, especially hidden hot spots that need extinguishing.

 “That aerial view informs our operational decisions and helps us provide accurate information about fire perimeters and activities to the public,” Grafe said.

State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said:, “We appreciate the cooperation from drone hobbyists. By keeping their drones on the ground for the time being, we’ll be able to get our helicopters and planes safely in the air fighting fires.”

Poor visibility over the state from the heavy smoke has prevented firefighting aircraft from fully engaging on wildfires. With forecasts calling for clearer skies in coming days, fire officials say the public should expect to see many more planes and helicopters in and around wildfires, sources of water and airstrips.

An Oregon Army Guard HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter empties a water bucket onto flames on the Brattain Fire on Sept. 15 near Paisley, Ore. Two Army Guard Black Hawks, headquartered out of Salem, are assigned to the fire. Source: Oregon Office of Emergency Management



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos