By News-Register staff • 

UPDATED: Wildfires evacuations end near Yamhill County borders, air conditions remain hazardous

Dora Totoian/News-Register##Ben and Jerry, two Suffolk Punch horses displaced by the Riverside Fire, are taking shelter at the Yamhill County  Fairgrounds.
Dora Totoian/News-Register##Ben and Jerry, two Suffolk Punch horses displaced by the Riverside Fire, are taking shelter at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Local volunteers Brody Tuning and Kalem Stephens provide fresh bedding for chickens being kept at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds.  Dozens of families from around Oregon had to escape from approaching fire danger to the fairgrounds in McMinnville.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Local volunteers Brody Tuning and Kalem Stephens provide fresh bedding for chickens being kept at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds. Dozens of families from around Oregon had to escape from approaching fire danger to the fairgrounds in McMinnville.
EPA map updated Saturday at 3 p.m. displays Yamhill County air quality. This map updates the story below by showing most of the county in  Very Unhealthy  zone as smoke density increased westerly. The darker  Hazardous  zone at middle-right now is extending into Newberg-Dundee and Dayton.
EPA map updated Saturday at 3 p.m. displays Yamhill County air quality. This map updates the story below by showing most of the county in "Very Unhealthy" zone as smoke density increased westerly. The darker "Hazardous" zone at middle-right now is extending into Newberg-Dundee and Dayton.
EPA map updated Saturday morning shows air quality throughout Oregon. Saturday s 1 p.m. map updated the story below by adding Amity and Yamhill to  Very Unhealthy  zones as smoke density increased westerly. Areas just outside Newberg-Dundee and Dayton reached  Hazardous  index levels in the afternoon.
EPA map updated Saturday morning shows air quality throughout Oregon. Saturday's 1 p.m. map updated the story below by adding Amity and Yamhill to "Very Unhealthy" zones as smoke density increased westerly. Areas just outside Newberg-Dundee and Dayton reached "Hazardous" index levels in the afternoon.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue photo##Crews work to hold back the wildfire in the Chehalem Mountains north of Newberg.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue photo##Crews work to hold back the wildfire in the Chehalem Mountains north of Newberg.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A vineyard, looking northwest on Worden Hill Road.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A vineyard, looking northwest on Worden Hill Road.
Washington County Sheriff s Office photo##A fire burning on the north side of the Chehalem Mountains approached this property Tuesday evening as Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews battled to save it.
Washington County Sheriff's Office photo##A fire burning on the north side of the Chehalem Mountains approached this property Tuesday evening as Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews battled to save it.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue photo##Drone image of Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Wildfire taken from a logging road looking west, not far from Highway 219.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue photo##Drone image of Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Wildfire taken from a logging road looking west, not far from Highway 219.
Dora Totoian/News-Register##The sky outside the Fred Meyer store in Newberg on Wednesday morning.
Dora Totoian/News-Register##The sky outside the Fred Meyer store in Newberg on Wednesday morning.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A vineyard, on Worden Hill Road looking northeast.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##A vineyard, on Worden Hill Road looking northeast.
Forest Grove Fire and Rescue photo of the Gaston fire
Forest Grove Fire and Rescue photo of the Gaston fire
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Justin Harlon of Colton gives the last of his five pigs a nudge into a pen at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds Wednesday. He moved his animals to Molalla and through they were safe, but had to evacuate them again to the McMinnville location.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Justin Harlon of Colton gives the last of his five pigs a nudge into a pen at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds Wednesday. He moved his animals to Molalla and through they were safe, but had to evacuate them again to the McMinnville location.

To sign up for emergency alerts from Yamhill County Emergency Management, go to the website by clicking here. The hotline is 503-474-4944.

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(UPDATED, Friday, 9 a.m.

Air quality in Northwest Oregon was upgraded Friday morning, as regional rainfall reduced smoke particles from major wildfires that continue burning in Clackamas and Marion counties among other areas of the state.

Still, most of Yamhill County displays in “Unhealthy” air zones on EPA maps. Eastern areas of the county display in “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” air pollution zones, moving to “Moderate” zones westerly to the coast.

The Portland Metro area zones are similar to Yamhill County. In both areas, reports earlier in the week included periods of both “Very Unhealthy” and “Hazardous” readings throughout the area.

The Riverside Fire in Clackamas County has Level 1 (Be Ready) evacuation zones including Molalla, Beavercreek and Scotts Mills, with Level 2 (Be Set) zones for Estacada and Colton. The Beachie Creek Fire in Marion County has Level 1 evacuation zones approaching Stayton, Sublimity and Silverton.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.)

The McMinnville Farmers Market is canceled on Thursday, for a second straight week, because of poor air quality.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 10:55 a.m.)

SALEM (AP). — 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.

- - -

(UPDATED, Tuesday, 5 p.m.)

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

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.

- - -

(UPDATED, Tuesday, 4 p.m.)

The 875-acre Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire started at a improperly extinguished campfire on private property near the 20000 block of Neugebauer Road, the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported this afternoon.

"As a result of dry fuels, low humidity, high winds as well as steep and rugged terrain, the fire spread very quickly and proved very challenging to fight," the department said in a news release." In some cases, fire jumped over areas leaving unburned timber and dry fuels. Though the fire is considered contained, residents will need to remain vigilant and should call 911 to report any spot fires."

Level 2 evacuation zones remain in place, and firefighters will remain in the area to mop up hot spots and monitor for flare ups. "An audit is being done in the area to verify the number of outbuildings impacted by fire. Firefighters were able to protect all homes," TVF&R said.

Smoldering stumps may be seen for weeks or months.

- - -

(UPDATED, Tuesday, 1:20 p.m.)

A county-wide burn ban issued in Yamhill County in July is being "readvertised" amid current wildfires and poor air quality attributed to smoke. This applies to all briquette BBQs (charcoal grills), warming fires, cooking fires, or anything else with an open flame. Propane BBQs are allowed. For more information, contact the burn line at 503-472-3344.

- - -

(UPDATED, Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.)

The City of McMinnville will continue essential and work from home activities Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday based on current forecasts,city manager Jeff Towery said.

Also ...

Due to weather conditions, Mac is extending the application deadline for the Emergency Business Assistance grant from this Friday, Sept. 18, to Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Applications can be accessed online here and submitted via email by clicking here or in person at the Community Development Center, 231 NE Fifth Street.

Also ...

Gov. Kate Brown today requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the ongoing wildfires in Oregon. The request follows a federal emergency declaration that was granted on Sept. 10, and will bring much needed resources to Oregon's response and recovery efforts.

"Oregon is strong. Oregon is resilient. But to fight fires of this scale, we need all the help we can get," Brown said.

The request includes operational response support, such as additional communications resources, damage assessment teams, search and rescue support, debris management, as well as shelter and medical assistance, the governor's new release said. Assistance for counties and tribes was also included in the request. 

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 9:15 p.m.)

McMinnville Aquatic Center will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 4:40 p.m.)

The McMinnville Municipal Court has canceled court on Wednesday over concerns about the persistent poor air quality in the city.

Appearances will be rescheduled for a later Wednesday court date, the city's finance director, Jennifer Cuellar, said on Monday in a news release.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 4:10 p.m.)

Citing poor air quality, the Newberg School District today delayed the start of full school to Monday, Sept. 21.

"Forecasts don’t show significant air quality improvement until Wednesday. ... The rest of this week will be a “soft start," the district said.

"We will be making connections with students and families and distributing technology and learning materials to all students, since the fires and hazardous air quality have continued to delay many of those scheduled events," the district said.

Click for more details.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 3:50 p.m.)

The Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire is 100% contained, and all Level 3 evacuations lifted, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported this afternoon.

"Residents should remain vigilant and prepared to leave if conditions change. Firefighters will continue to mop up hot spots throughout the week," TVF&R said.

Click here for a full update.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 9:35 a.m.)

Willamette Valley smoke outlook:

A dense band of fog will join the smoke layer this AM. Reduced visibility should improve by afternoon. However, smoke will pool back into the valley in the evenings and smoke concentrations will linger into the week. For more, click here.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 9:05 a.m.)

The Yamhill County Fairgrounds has opened its facilities and staff time to helping people and animals evacuated from wildfires around the state. The unforeseen costs come at a time when fairground finances are depleted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People wanting to donate to help cover costs of the relief effort may do so here. All funds will be given to the fairgrounds after limited card transaction fees. Donations can be made in increments of $25 by using the 'quantity' button on the following checkout page.

- - -

(UPDATED, Monday, 8:55 a.m.)


Newberg: The first day of school won't be until at least Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Amity School District: Closed due to air quality.

Yamhill County Circuit Court: closed today due to hazardous air quality conditions.

City of McMinnville: The city will remain closed for nonessential staff in response to hazardous air quality forecast again for Monday, city manager Jeff Towery said Sunday evening.

McMinnville Schools: Due to poor air quality, the first day of school will be moved from Monday, Sept. 14 to Tuesday, Sept. 15

Yamhill Carlton: Schools also will be closed Monday. Instead, students will start classes comprehensive distance learning Tuesday.

Virginia Garcia: All clinics, school-based clinics and administrative office will be closed. "Please stay indoors and follow the guidance of your local county public health officials."

- - -

(UPDATED, Sunday, 5:20 p.m.)

Eight of 10 Yamhill County cities – and more than half of county lands – were in the “Hazardous” air quality zone on an EPA map updated at 2 p.m. Sunday. Only Carlton and Yamhill were one level down at “Very Unhealthy." However, the 4 p.m. update showed all Yamhill County cities in the Hazardous zone for air quality.

- - -

(UPDATED, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.)

All Level 3 evacuations have been lifted for the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported this afternoon.

The department says the fire is estimated at 75% contained, and TVF&R firefighters are mopping up. Additional hand crews from Oregon Department of Forestry are also dousing hot spots and contending with tree snags. PGE has been working to restore power.

Air quality remains unhealthy and people are encouraged to remain indoors.

Also ...

Foresters from area lumber companies have been helping the firefighting crews on the Powerline Fire near Hagg Lake, Forest Grove Fire District reported.

Stimson Lumber Co. foresters helped extinguish hot spots, Hampton Lumber brought their company engines and Bighorn Logging from Banks formed a 10 person crew to add capacity.

“These are not crews that make a living fighting fire, these are crews that care for our forests, planting trees and managing tree spacing, but they have the skills to help and made the difference on this fire” said Mike Cafferata, District Forester in Forest Grove.

The department said the fire is in the "mop-up phase" and is moving toward full containment. "Soon the fire will be in patrol status which means, working with Gaston Rural Fire District, we will watch this fire until the fall rains have extinguished it completely," the department said in a news release.

"We are truly grateful to our forestry partners for answering the call and stepping up to assist during this historic fire event."

- - -

(UPDATED, Sunday, 11:05 a.m.)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is warning drivers to be extra cautious if they are on the roads during the heavy smoke caused by wildfires.

ODOT suggests that drivers slow down, turn on their headlights and fog lights, if they have them, and be extra vigilent for oncoming traffic.

Keep plenty of space between your vehicle and those ahead and behind you. If you have to stop, pull completely off the roadway.

Some roads are closed. Check the website before you leave home to see whether the route you plan to take is accessible.

- - -

(UPDATED, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.)

Wildfire-related information sites include:

Updated map of wildfires

By-county announcements and alerts

Sunday morning news reports describe early relief from wildfire threats in some areas of Oregon, while describing massive destruction around the state and continued risks of more.

Among reports from statewide news sources: 1 million acres burned; nine deaths; 500,000 people in evacuation zones; 100 homes destroyed in Lincoln County as evacuation warnings rolled back along Devil’s Lake; no containment of Clackamas County Riverside fire with evacuation warnings going to Oregon City, Canby and nearby areas; continued “Go” evacuation orders in devastated Santiam areas.

Yamhill County air quality indexes updated Sunday morning display a combination of “Unhealthy” (Sherian, Willamina, Grand Ronde); “Very Unhealthy” (Amity, McMinnville, Lafayette, Carlton, Yamhill; and “Hazardous” (Dayton, Dundee, Newberg).

- - -

(UPDATED, Saturday 4:30 p.m.)

Local winery owner Lindsay Woodard has launched a fund drive to help cover unforeseen overhead costs of housing evacuated animals and people at the Yamhill County fairgrounds. The News-Register has partnered to set up a donation payment page on its website. Click here to donate.

- - -

(UPDATED, Saturday 4:15 p.m.)

Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart & lung diseases, Oregon Health Authority reports.

Air quality across Yamhill County has ranged from unhealthy to hazardous for several days now.

OHA recommendations for everyone: Limit your exposure to smoke

  • Stay indoors
  • Do not add to indoor pollution
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor exercise
  • Recirculate interior air in your vehicle

- - -

(UPDATED, Saturday 3 p.m.)

Firefighters working the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire are focusing their efforts on hot spots within the reduced Level 3 evacuation zone, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported this afternoon.  

"Incident commanders have evaluated the progress of firefighters and have determined that most the Level 3 zones can be significantly decreased to a Level 2 (safe to return). Power still has not been restored to the area," TVF&R said.

"Residents should be aware that firefighters will be working on hot spots throughout the area, and anyone living inside of the Level 2 area needs to remain “set” to go at a moment’s notice. Fire conditions can change quickly."

Residents can enter the address into this interactive map to determine their zone.

Also ...

OREGON CITY (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy in Clackamas County has been placed on leave after a video surfaced in which he suggested left-wing activists had been “causing hell” in setting wildfires — a claim that has been debunked by the FBI.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said he placed the deputy on leave after learning of the video, which recorded the deputy referring to “antifa” and saying that people’s lives and property were at stake because "these guys got some vendetta.”

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies in the Northwest say they have investigated such reports and found them false. Authorities say having to debunk conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working to fight the fires and protect lives.

The sheriff said the deputy would be on leave pending an investigation of making inappropriate comments and violating policy.

- - -

(UPDATED,  Saturday, 2:50 p.m.)

(AP) -- Oregon’s fire marshal has resigned after being placed on leave amid a personnel investigation.

Oregon State Police placed Fire Marshal Jim Walker on leave Friday night, and he resigned Saturday.

In a news release Saturday, State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said only that a leadership change was needed to face the “unprecedented crisis” posed by the wildfires.

Mariana Ruiz-Temple, the chief deputy state fire marshal, has been named to replace him.

In a written statement Saturday, Gov. Kate Brown said Ruiz-Temple had “led with grace, transparency and courage” and that she “embodies the experience Oregon needs to face this crisis.”

- - -

(UPDATED,  Saturday, 2:05 p.m.)

Efforts to protect the houseless community in Yamhill County from the persistent unhealthy air are ongoing.

McMinnville FIrst Baptist Church is providing a clean-air shelter from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and YCAP has provided some particularly vulnerable people with access to hotels, Yamhill County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin said today.

World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that cooks nutritious food for people in disaster areas, is working to deliver meals to various places where people are gathering. Paul Losch, who owns and operates Ruddick/Wood restaurant in Newberg, is coordinating the effort.

Manfrin said Champion Team and Provoking Hope are welcoming people into their facilities and Gospel Rescue Mission rin McMinnville remains open.

Additionally, Manfrin noted:

  • HHS- Behavioral Health continues to provide support to those in the community with behavioral health challenges.
  • HHS- Public Health has been working to share information with the community about safety and has worked to evacuate Marion County residents who are in need of quarantine.

- - -

(UPDATED, Saturday, 1:45 p.m.)

Community support has been above and beyond at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds, according to staff, volunteers and evacuees, in response to the wildfires around western Oregon this week.

Fair Manager Gary Wentz said they are full of volunteers and supplies as of Saturday. They are prepared to help more evacuees with animals from Clackamas and Marion counties if needed. At this time, no more supplies are needed.

Some families and animals who took refuge at the fairgrounds on Lafayette Avenue in McMinnville earlier this week have been able to return home. Many others remain on site, along with dozens of volunteers working around the clock to care for animals and provide a calming atmosphere to Oregonians whose lives have been affected by the historic wildfires. The fairgrounds is currently only hosting evacuees who need support with farm animals. 

The office phone line has been ringing around the clock onsite for office manager Lacey Carroll and volunteers for several days. Carroll said Friday afternoon her next concern was setting up long-term shelter for people and their animals who won’t have a home to return to. 

Local winery owner Lindsay Woodard launched a monetary donation drive Thursday to help cover unforeseen overhead costs of housing evacuated animals and people at the fairgrounds. The News-Register has partnered to set up a donation payment page on its website. Click here to donate.

- - -

(UPDATED,  Saturday, 11 a.m.)

Environmental Protection Agency quality maps updated Saturday morning show all of eastern Yamhill County in a “Very Unhealthy” zone due to smoke particle pollution from Oregon wildfires. That air quality index reading of 201-300 – on the EPA scale to 500 -- includes cities of McMinnville, Dayton, Lafayette, Carlton, Newberg and Dundee.

Readings above 300 represent the sixth and highest index level, labled “Hazardous.” As of Saturday morning, that index covered major areas east of Portland, Salem and Eugene into Central and Eastern Oregon.

Locally, the Saturday morning index was in the “Unhealthy” category – 151-200 – for Yamhill, Amity, Sheridan, Willamina and Grand Ronde.

 The American Lung Association has issued precautionary recommendations to avoid damage to lungs and “exacerbations of respiratory disease.”

 Recommendations include: Stay indoors; don’t exercise outdoors; don’t rely on an ordinary dust mask that won’t filter out tiny particles, instead using N-95 or N-100 masks; take extra precautions with children; close car windows and vents; close home doors, windows and fireplace damper.

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 8 p.m.)

CORRECTION: The McMinnville Aquatic Center, along with all Parks and Rec facilities and programs, are closed because of poor air conditions. The aquatic Center tentatively plans to reopen on Monday.

The McMinnville Library is open Saturday.

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 4:30 p.m.)

Newberg School District is delaying the first day of school until at least Wednesday, Sept. 16, citing poor air quality and the impact of wildfire evacuations.

"Having all of this on top of beginning the year in Comprehensive Distance Learning isn’t what any of us planned. But we are going to work hard to begin this year well," a district official said.

"We know that many of you and many of our staff are impacted by evacuations and poor air quality due to the worst wildfires in Oregon history. Our concern is for all our students and staff—for their physical safety and their emotional well-being."

Read more here

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 4 p.m.)

There are no active fires in McMinnville. The fire department notes on Facebook that some residents have seen what appears to be a fire on fire maps, but it's actually from the local steel mill.

Here's what the department says: "Many of you have reached out regarding fire maps that show this location as an active fire. This is the local steel mill. The work they do there creates enough heat to show on the map. Thank you for your concern but McMinnville does not have any active fires. We are not under an evacuation notice."

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 2:25 p.m.)

The Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire is now 70% contained, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported this afternoon.

About 75 firefighters are still working at the fire. Revised estimates of burned area remains at 875 acres. Fire investigators have been conducting witness interviews and examining material evidence. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Water drops provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry on Thursday were instrumental in the fire fight in difficult areas with steep terrain that is hard to reach for ground crews, TVF&R said. This afternoon, fire commanders are meeting with ODF representatives with expertise in wildfire tactics to update the strategy to fully contain the fire.

Some residents who were evacuated have been allowed to return home, though it’s important for people to be prepared to leave again if fire conditions change.

“We are very pleased with the progress that has been made on the Chehalem Mountain–Bald Peak Fire and look forward to being able to let more residents return to their homes," TVF&R's Cassandra Ulven said. "We urge people to make responsible decisions while conditions remain dry. Please respect burn bans."

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 11:55 a.m.)

Our hearts go out to all the Oregonians who are being affected by wildfires. We urge people to make responsible decisions while conditions remain dry. Please respect burn bans. Avoid activities that could start fires such as improperly discarding smoking materials, use of equipment that can create sparks near combustibles or recreational fire pits.”

Yamhill County Sheriff's Office statement just before noon: Nothing has changed as of yet today regarding the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire. Still lots of personnel working. Power remains off and Mountaintop Road is still closed between Hwy 219 and McCormick Hill and Bald Peak is closed between Hwy 219 and Ornduff.

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 11:40 a.m.)

The FBI issued a statement today saying there is no truth to reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. The agency says conspiracy theories and misinformation are taking valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working around the clock to control the fires.

"Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources," the FBI said.

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 9:20 a.m.)

President Donald Trump has declared an emergency in Oregon and ordered federal assistance due to the emergency conditions resulting from the ongoing wildfires.
The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide appropriate assistance "to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Lincoln, Marion, Tillamook, and Washington."

Also ...

Amity, Dayton and Sheridan School District will be closed Friday due to poor air quality and/or the number of staff impacted by numerous wildfires. Sheridan was also closed Thursday.

Additionally, C.S. Lewis Academy in Newberg will be closed due to families under evacuation orders and air quality. There will be no campus or online instruction. All Portland Community College campuses will be closed. The college has a Newberg campus.

The Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in McMinnville will be closed. Remote operations, clssses, services and telework will continue.

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 9 a.m.):

Effective at 9 a.m. Friday, all previous Level 3 Powerline fire evacuation areas will be downgraded to Level 2. These are for residents on SW Dundee Road, SW Herring Road, SW Lee Road and SW Cascara Drive.

Again, those residents can return home after 9 a.m. Those residents should still be set to leave again if conditions change. All other areas on Level 2, like Cherry Grove community and SW Patton Valley Road will downgrade to Level 1.

The fire conditions have been favorable for crews to downgrade evacuations as well as for the need for fewer resources. The Oregon Department of Forestry will be taking command of the incident using local crews from Forest Grove, Cornelius, Gaston, Banks as well as contract crews and equipment.

The focus will be on enforcing the containment lines even greater as well as putting out hot spots. You may see smoke from the area, but that's areas burning within our containment area. The fire is still 175 acres in size and 50% containment. The containment portion is difficult to calculate in some areas due to very steep terrain. 

The Washington County Sheriff's Office will still have a presence in the area. Hagg Lake is still closed for use of firefighting aircraft being deployed for other fire incidents in the area. We do not plan on using air resources for our incident. 

Evacuation Levels (effective at 9 a.m.):

Level 2 (Be Set) - SW Dundee Road, SW Herring Road, SW Lee Road and SW Cascara Drive.

Level 1 (Be Ready) - Cherry Grove community, SW Patton Valley Road

- - -

(UPDATED, Friday, 7 a.m.):

Highway 101 is now open through Lincoln City. The section opened late Thursday night.

Highway 18 remains closed by wildfire activity between the Highway 101 junction, north of Lincoln City, and milepost 6/east end of Rose Lodge.

Be prepared for changing conditions and know your route and alternates before you go.

Check or call511 for the latest road closures and conditions throughout the state.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 5:30 p.m.) :

Yamhill County sheriff's office reports an update on the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire: roads previously at Level 3 (evacuate) are now Level 2 “Be Set”. You may return but remain prepared: NE Chehalem Drive south of Hillside Drive including NE Happy Hill, NE Ranor Lp, NE Welch, NE Bryan Creek, NE North Valley between Hillside and Chehalem.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 4:30 p.m.) :

Update on Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue:

Some residents who were evacuated are being allowed to return home. The searchable map at this link shows areas that are now safe, though it’s important for people to be prepared to leave again if fire conditions change.

There are 72 firefighters working the fire. Considerable progress has been made. Revised estimates of burned area are 875 acres, based on ground reconnaissance, aerial footage and GIS analysis. Firefighters have been able to protect all but three barns. Water is being dropped from the air and dozers are being used to cut fire lines. The biggest challenge is steep terrain and canyons. There have been no known injuries to residents, firefighters or animals. The fire is approximately 50% contained. Fire commanders are currently assessing containment progress.

We are very grateful for the level of support we’ve received from partners and members of the community. Though we appreciate the kindness, we do not need food, water or other supplies delivered to fire stations or work sites.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 2:50 p.m.) :

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde have provided a camp for firefighters battling the Echo Mountain Complex Fire near Otis, Smoke Signals, a tribal newspaper, reported Thursday. 

Working with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the tribe set up a camp on Wednesday in the tribal gym and a campground near Blacktail Drive that can house 150 to 200 people. Firefighters and first responders can eat, sleep and take a break in the camp. The public is not allowed in these areas. 

There is no need for volunteers at the camp, but any future needs will be posted to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Facebook page.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 2:20 p.m.) :


McMinnville Parks and Recreation has canceled its programs and closed its facilities because of poor indoor and outdoor air quality.

First Federal has temporarily closed all of its branches "to protect our clients and employees from poor air quality." It asks customers to use ATMs, online, or mobile banking.

The Gallery Theater canceled its Thursday night outdoor production.

The McMinville Farmers Market did not operate today.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 2 p.m.):

Washington County Sheriff's Office is urging people to stay away from the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire area, saying some residents under evacuation orders have attempted to return home. 

Up to 200 firefighters are currently working on the fire that is estimated to be about 2,000 acres. Operations and evacuation orders will remain in place through at least the next 24 hours. Power remains shut off in the affected areas for safety.  

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 1:45 p.m.):

Update from the Oregon Department of  Forestry on the fires near Lincoln City:

"Weather conditions were favorable last night for an Infra-red flight to fly over the fires to gather data for accurate fire perimeter mapping and acreage determination.

"The Echo Mountain Fire and Kimberling Fire are still separate fires, the combined acreage is 2,435 acres and zero percent containment.

"Last night the wind shifted from east winds to southwesterly winds and that will help fire fighters begin to attack this fire by establishing an anchor point and work on the east side of the fire.

"Overhead personnel are flying in today from the Florida Forestry Service to add capacity to the Oregon Department of Forestry staff in managing this fire.

"Pacific Power workers along with ODF Fire Officials and ODOT Foresters are walking the affect powerlines in the fire area to assess damages. Repairs have started.

"Power needs to be restored before people are allowed to return to their homes and road closures lifted. Restoring power to the Lincoln City Hospital is a priority and vital before it can reopen."

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 1:15 p.m.):

Water drops by the Oregon Department of Forestry on the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire have helped firefighters to make progress, the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue said by twitter today. The agency said that it hopes to assess the fire's containment level soon.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 11:45 a.m.):

The City of McMinnville has closed nonessential city programs today in response to poor air quality, including inside some city buildings such as City Hall, city manager Jeff Towery said.

 - - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 10:45 a.m.):

Gov. Kate Brown issued an anti-price gouging order today.

Executive Order 20-42 declares an abnormal market disruption as a result of the statewide wildfire emergency, a response to reports of unusual increases in lodging rates for Oregonians who have evacuated fire areas and concern that the wildfire emergency may prevent ready availability of other essential consumer goods and services, her office said.

“During a statewide emergency, it is absolutely unacceptable to price gouge Oregonians who have already been hard hit and are facing devastating loss,” Brown said in a statement. “This order empowers the Attorney General and the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate these instances and take appropriate action if businesses are found to be in violation.”

"As wildfires force thousands of Oregonians to abandon their homes, local businesses have stepped up to ensure that families can find essential goods and services at fair prices," said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "To any who would take advantage of neighbors in need, the Governor's order on price gouging is a reminder that the Oregon Department of Justice will stop them in their tracks."

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 9:50 a.m.):

Firefighters continue working the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire north of Newberg this morning, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported. Bulldozers are being used to cut fire lines. Fire commanders will be assessing areas this morning to determine containment progress, the department said.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 9:40 a.m.) :

Air quality in McMinnville and the surrounding area is hazardous again today with numbers that are off the charts in the 600s. Stay inside. Avoid outdoor exertion. Close windows. Be safe. AQI checks here.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Thursday, 8:30 a.m.):

The Washington County Sheriff's office reported by tweet this morning that although no structures have been lost in the Powerline fire that encompasses Hagg Lake and Gaston, homes on Dundee Road and Herring Road remain under threat. About 100 personnel are still fighting the fire, the agency said.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Chief Deric Weiss said in a press release on Wednesday evening that crews "have been working exhaustively around the clock to hold the line of the fire" in the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire north of Newberg. 

“Fortunately, no one has been injured," Weiss said. "Firefighters have managed to protect all the homes in the area, despite challenging weather conditions, wind gusts, and limited resources. The fire is not considered contained yet due to unpredictable conditions, but progress is being made.”

A red flag warning has finally been lifted from the area and the east wind is expected to die down today, according to the Portland office of the National Weather Service, but conditions remain hazardous, with warm, dry air still in place, and the valley remains under an air quality alert, due to the heavy smoke. 

Comfort centers offering food, water, showers and air conditioning have been set up at three churches in Newberg: 

NW Christian Church, at 2315 Villa Road; Northside Community Church, at 1800 N. Hoskin Road and Red Hills Church, at 115 N. Third Street.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 11:30 p.m.):

Incident commanders for both the fire near Hagg Lake and the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire north of Newberg reported that the wildfires were 50% contained Wednesday evening. Aircraft from the Oregon Department of Forestry assisted at both locations until nightfall, scooping water from Hagg Lake to drop on the fires.

An update from the Gaston Rural Fire District said no houses or other buildings were burned in the Powerline Fire. A few barns were reported to be burned in the Chehalem Mountain area, but no houses were reported to be damaged. Evacuation notices remain the same. 

- - - 

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.):

There are no significant local needs for shelter or other supplies right now, county leaders said at a Zoom meeting tonight organized by Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla.

However, Brian Young, the county's emergency manager, said there may be need for hay at the fairgrounds, where people displaced by fires have been bringing their livestock.

Young said a 10-ton hay donation was delivered yesterday, and there may be a need for another load at some point by the weekend.

If you need to make arrangements for animals, contact Lacey, 503-341-4572.

- - - 

(UPDATED, Wednesday 6:15 p.m.):

The Gaston Fire District has been assisted by fire districts from Dundee, Carlton, Amity, and McMinnville Fire Department among others in tackling the blaze between the Cherry Grove area and Hagg Lake.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 5:40 p.m.):

Yamhill County Emergency Management

UPDATE: Additional areas have been designated for Level 1 evacuation readiness at the recommendation of Chehalem Mountain Fire Command. Level 1: Means “BE READY" for potential evacuation. They are:

• Bachelor Boulevard

• Bjur Lane

• SW Cady Road

• SW Casavant Drive

• SW Colby Lane

• SW Cougar Hill Lane

• SW Finnigan Hill Road

• SW Holly Hill Road

• SW McCormick Hill Road

• SW Ornduff Road

- - -

Update provided by McMinnville Chamber of Commerce: McMinnville Water and Light is not planning any safety power shutoffs. They have personnel patrolling lines to monitor for issues. They do not expect any distribution feeders to close a second time.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.):

The National Weather Service has continued the area's Red Flag Warning until 8 a.m. Thursday due to windy and extremely dry conditions. It had been scheduled to expire on Wednesday.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.):

Additional areas west and southwest of the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire have been issued a Level 1 evacuation order, informing residents to be prepared to leave.

"This is the time for preparation and precautionary movements of persons with special needs, mobile property and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock. If conditions worsen, emergency services personnel may contact you via an emergency notification system," the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office stated.

Locations placed on notice are: Kings Grade Road between North Valley Road and Bald Peak Road; Bachelor Blvd; Bjur Lane; SW Cady Road; SW Casavant Drive; SW Colby Lane; SW Cougar Hill Lane; SW Finnigan Hill Road; SW Holly Hill Road; SW McCormick Hill Road; SW Ornduff Road; SW Turner Hill Lane

Also ...

An Oregon Wildfire Resource Website has been created to help Oregonians stay informed and safe.

“We are all in this together,” said Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps. “If you’re somewhere safe, stay put. Stay informed, be ready, and know where to go and what to bring if you must evacuate."

Local evacuation information can be found on the OEM Wildfire dashboard. Information is ever-changing so continue to check back for updated information.

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 3:25 p.m.):

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce has changed its Friday Greeters program to a virtual meeting, because of the fires. A link to the online Greeters' program at Reynolds Dog Resort is available on the Chamber website,

- - -

(UPDATED, Wednesday, 1:20 p.m.):

Gov. Kate Brown says hundreds of homes have been burned by wildfires fires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in the Pacific Northwest.

No fatalities from the fires have yet been confirmed, but Brown says some communities have been substantially destroyed.

“This could be the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Gov. Brown said.

Click for more details from The Associated Press.


Oregon’s U.S. senators and representatives are requesting rapid approval of Gov. Kate Brown’s request for federal disaster relief, as unprecedented wildfires ravage the state:

“Given the severity and speed in which these fires are spreading across the state, we urge you to expedite the declaration process to ensure that local communities have the resources they need to respond to and recover quickly from these devastating wildfires.”

Oregon is facing its worst drought in nearly 30 years, which has resulted in some of the driest forest and brush conditions on record. This week, an unprecedented windstorm—with winds upward of 50 mph and gusts of 60 mph—exploded existing fires and caught many communities by surprise. Tens of thousands of Oregonians across the state have now been forced to flee from their communities.

As the state shifts resources from saving life and property from flames to assessing wildfire damage, the governor’s office will request disaster relief from the federal government. Expedited approval will rapidly deliver millions of dollars of critically needed aid to devastated communities.

“The number and scale of fires burning on Oregon’s landscape at the moment are unprecedented,” the delegation wrote, “and urgent action is necessary.”

Click here to read the full letter here.

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 1:20 p.m.):

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue has posted a map of the evacuation area of the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak fire. Click here for the map

The agency said they are supporting crews needs and donated items like food or water are not needed at this time. It encourages people to consider a donation to the American Red Cross.

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 12:50 p.m.):

Gallery Theater in McMinnville is canceling its Thursday evening outdoor show for Sept. 10. The theater had planned a cabaret performance, but is canceling because of the smoke and poor air quallity.

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 11:45 a.m.):

McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce President Gioia Goodrum said "many businesses" have agreed to allow recreational vehicles with displaced residents to park in their lots.

Individuals interested in donating water can drop it off at Yamhill County Emergency Management on Northeast Lafayette Avenue, behind the Oregon State University Extension Office, or at the McMinnville Fire Department (by the front door).

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.):

MacHub has canceled the community market sale it planned for Friday and Saturday. Its online auction will run through Sept. 18, instead of Sept. 12, through its Facebook page.

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 11 a.m.):

The north section of Lincoln City, from S.E. 40th to Highway 18, is now under Level 3 evacuation, as the fire near Otis has spread southwest. The areas from Highway 101 to Rose Lodge are also at Level 3. Highway 18 is closed between Highway 101 and mile post 7 east of Rose Lodge.

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 10:20 a.m.):

According to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, considerable progress was made on the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire overnight. However, it is not contained or under control.

In a tweet this morning, the agency said that "as many as 2,000 acres have burned."

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 10:10 a.m.):

The McMinnville Farmers Market on Thursday has been CANCELED because of fire risk and "unstable conditions."

"Based on the State of Emergency that was declared early this morning and the Red Flag warning in place through today with a potential of extension due to expected unstable conditions on Thursday we are going to cancel this week's market for the safety of our vendors and community members," the McMinnville Downtown Association said  in a news release this morning.

A hotline has been set up for information about the fires and resources available, according to Yamhill County Emergency Management. Residents may call 503-474-4944.

To sign up for emergency alerts, go to the county Emergency Management website, at

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 10 a.m.):

Yamhill County Fair Manager Gary Wertz said he began receiving calls about noon Tuesday from people impacted by the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire regarding if the fairgrounds was boarding horses and other animals.

"We've taken in quite a few horses, from all over," Wertz said. Other fairgrounds - state in Salem, Clackamas, Polk - were getting full. We're not just getting horses, but goats, pigs. It's like a Noah's Arc out here."

Wertz said he, Office Manager Lacy Carroll and Office Assistant Kelly VanBaggen, in addition to many volunteers, are getting pens set up for the goats, pigs and other animals that are arriving.

"We've had a great turnout of volunteers," he said. "We've had donations of hay, stall shavings, buckets for water. It's kind of neat. We've got more animals coming in, too. We're going to be accepting animals all day (Wednesday) long."

Wertz said that's being done on a "first come, first-serve basis," but no animal will be turned away.

"It might not be an optimum setting, but we'll find a place for an animal."

- - -

(UPDATED Wednesday 9:30 a.m.):

Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla urged county residents to sign up for emergency alerts, and said that the Yamhill County Fairgrounds were opened yesterday for livestock safe sheltering, and two churches in Newberg have opened their buildings to receive evacuees that needed shelter. 

CERT members have been stationed on key access roads to provide guidance about travel and which roads are open, Kulla said.

He said that "There has been some confusion about evacuation alerts: you will be contacted directly, and if you have signed up for the emergency alert system, you will get a text or phone call."

- - -

(UPDATED: Wednesday, 8:50 a.m.):

Multiple fires causing Level 3 evacuations Tuesday on the outskirts of Yamhill County continued to spread through the night.

Casey Kulla, chair of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, signed an emergency declaration early Wednesday morning. Drafted by the sheriff, the declaration cites two wildfires on the edges of the county.

Air quality was listed as hazardous Wednesday in Yamhill County. McMinnville's AQI -- air quality index -- was at 549 around 9 a.m. People are urged to stay inside.

A fire burning south of Hagg Lake led to the evacuation of the Cherry Grove community Tuesday morning, along with Dundee Road, Patton Valley Road, Cascara Drive and Lee Road. 

After nightfall, the Yamhill Fire Protection District issued a Level 1 (prepare to evacuate) for areas about 10 miles northwest of the city, including Gerrish Valley and Turner Creek Gate to Dodson Road.

The Gales Creek Journal reported that the fire was sparked by a downed West Oregon Electric Co-op power line, according to Forest Grove Fire and Rescue public information officer Matt Johnston.

Residents in the Bald Peak area north of Newberg were told to evacuate Tuesday evening from a fire that started between Jaquith Road and Mountain Top Road on the north side of the Chehalem Mountains. Level III evacuations continued to be issued by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office through the night.

A staging area for evacuees has been set up at Mountainside High School, 12500 SW 175th Ave, Beaverton.

Those subject to Level 1, 2 or 3 evacuation notices are urged to take them seriously, the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office said. Notification to those affected have been done by door to door contact or through the Yamhill County Alerts emergency notification system.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the free Yamhill County Alerts Program at:

Yamhill County deputies, search and rescue and volunteers are currently assisting in the evacuation of residents affected by the Chehalem Mountain Fire.

A hotline has been established to answer questions regarding resources available to those affected by the fires and for updates. Citizens can call 503-474-4944.

Displaced residents should take shelter with friends or relatives who live outside the danger zone. Those without resources should go to the evacuation center located at Newberg High School at 2400 Douglas Avenue.

Two fires burned through the night in the Coast Range just north of Highway 18 in Lincoln County. Evacuations occurred between Otis and Rose Lodge and also east of the Rose Lodge area.

Highway 18 is closed between the interchange with U.S. 101 north of Lincoln City and milepost 7, east of Rose Lodge. Highway 22 to 101 is the detour to Lincoln City.




It would be very helpful to have a link to the best updated maps with fire locations.

Ossie Bladine


This is the best map I've found of the entire region:;d:2020-09-08;l:noaa20-viirs,viirs,modis_a,modis_t,nrt_noaa20-viirs,nrt_viirs,nrt_modis_a,nrt_modis_t,street;@-122.6,44.8,9z

Lincoln County has an interactive map showing current evacuation areas:

I don't think Yamhill or Washington counties have a similar map, but we'll double check.


Thank you for the consistent updates, this is great. Thank you for the long hours being put in to help us face this crisis.


Perhaps multi-layered disasters will remind even those few petty faultfinders as to the value of our local newspaper. Sincere thanks to N/R staff and management, you are always there when we need you.


treefarmer - I think we all appreciate the updates and the hard work of so many out there fighting these battles every day to protect this state and all of its communities. This is hard on everybody. Maybe you could pay your compliment to the News-Register and just leave the extra jab out during this hard time.


Wow Finch – you told us you were leaving…..and yet here you are again with your holier-than-thou disdain, even using “hard times” to rationalize your “suggestion.” You know less than nothing about what I am doing to help with this crisis, maybe you could spare me the uninformed advice?

(Apparently you just can’t quit me. It was unkind of you to get my hopes up.)


Talk about holier than thou -- goodbye!

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