news and events » news

News Header

News Item

return to News

Firefighters make dramatic escape from lake after being surrounded

by Zach Urness, David Davis and Natalie Pate, Salem Statesman-Journal |

The firefighters of the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District in northwestern Oregon made a dramatic escape Monday night after being surrounded by flames.

After the Lionshead Fire overwhelmed the area, "our firefighters had to abandon the district,” officials said.

They evacuated everyone to Mongold Day Use at Detroit Lake and created defensible space, but with Highway 22 blocked on both ends by boulders and downed burning trees, they called in the National Guard for an air evacuation, but they were unable to land due to high winds and heavy smoke, they wrote. 

"We had approximately 70 civilians staged at Mongold. We were preparing to move people to the docks for a 'last stand,' but the Forest Service was able to find an evacuation route up to Government Camp using forest roads. Everyone was evacuated safely." 

Fire crews across northwest Oregon are battling extreme winds and historically challenging fire conditions as multiple wildfires spread into populated areas east of Salem and Eugene. 

Wildfires are burning in the Santiam Canyon and McKenzie River Corridor, closing large chunks of Highway 22 and Highway 126 and bringing widespread evacuations.

They are also burning in the Coast Range in Lincoln County, closing major highways.

Parts of Medford were placed under evacuation alert Tuesday night due to the Almeda Fire that burned from Ashland up the Rogue Valley. 

The Almeda Fire is 1,500 acres with no containment and brought level 3 evacuations to south and central Medford.

Meanwhile, the South Obenchain Fire burning near Eagle Point has grown to 8,000 acres and has also brought evacuations.