Central OregonPlanned 2-week closure of U.S. Highway 20 near Sweet Home delayed at...

Planned 2-week closure of U.S. Highway 20 near Sweet Home delayed at least 2 days due to wildfire risk

Planned 2-week closure of U.S. Highway 20 near Sweet Home delayed at least 2 days due to wildfire risk

Other fire-related news: ODOT warns to prevent vehicle-sparked wildfires; utility lists power shutoff times

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — The planned two-week construction and landslide repair closure of U.S. Highway 20 east of Sweet Home has been delayed at least two days for traveler safety due to forecast critical fire conditions.

The closure originally was scheduled to begin Friday but has now been delayed until Sunday at the earliest, ODOT officials said.

“Our schedule may change — the closure won’t start until after the red flag warning has lifted,” the agency said, urging travelers to visit TripCheck.com for the most current information.

“Drive carefully and be prepared if you travel this weekend,” ODOT said. “Hot, dry winds may prompt power line shutoffs to prevent fires. Treat traffic signals without power like a four-way stop. Trees and vegetation may be on the road. In dry conditions, be careful parking to prevent vehicle-sparked fires.”

On that note, ODOT also put out this advisory Thursday:

Vehicles can cause wildfires; make sure yours doesn’t in hot, windy, dry conditions

Oregon expects high winds, hot temperatures and dry conditions in the days ahead, and that means wildfire danger.

Make sure your autumn memories don’t include starting a wildfire. Over 70% of wildfires are caused by people and in Oregon last year, cars were the number one source of wildfires during the summer.

In these conditions, ODOT maintenance and construction crews will curtail potentially dangerous activities, including mowing and the use of heavy equipment that could throw off sparks.

Power outages in the extreme heat could cause major problems as well, with street lighting and traffic signals going dark. When traffic signals aren’t working properly, treat intersections like an all-way stop. Common courtesy says that the driver who stops first, goes first.

When power is out, some Tripcheck.com cameras and other information on the site may not be available and some tunnel lighting may be out. The lighting in the Vista Ridge Tunnel, in Southwest Portland, however has a backup generator. And variable message signs may not be available, making them unable to communicate emergency conditions.

With persistent and deepening drought conditions, we’re all more aware of the potential wildfire dangers our vehicles pose. And that means we all need to remember the lessons about how to make sure our vehicles don’t cause devastating wildfires.

Now is the time to remember lessons that help prevent roadside wildfires.

  • Stay on hardened surfaces when pulling off the road. Avoid dry grass that might come in contact with your vehicle’s hot exhaust system or catalytic converter.
  • Never, ever toss a lit cigarette or ANY burning materials from your vehicle.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher with you and know how to use it. You may save lives by putting out a small fire before it turns huge.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on rims will throw off sparks.
  • Secure tow chains and make sure they aren’t dragging. That can cause sparks.
  • Maintain your exhaust system. A worn-out catalytic converter can cast off extremely hot pieces of material into dry roadside grass and brush.
  • If you see something, say something. Warn others of the dangers of behaving carelessly with fireworks or other flammables.
  • Stay on the road. Off-road driving is prohibited in most areas during fire season.
  • Be prepared. Keep a cell phone, water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.
  • Service your vehicle regularly by a trained mechanic. Heat and electrical sparks coming into contact with leaking flammable car fluids can easily start a fire.

This late into the season, grasses are cured and the forests have all dried out. In these conditions, winds give accidental sparks or car fires the ability to spread quickly.

Remember, we all have a role in preventing wildfires in Oregon, especially as extended drought conditions create a greater window of opportunity for roadside ignitions.

All of us, and our cars, need to be extra careful.

Smokey Bear has it right. We can prevent wildfires.

Pacific Power updates estimated Public Safety Power Shutoff times

PORTLAND, Ore. – September 8, 2022 — Pacific Power continues to prepare for Public Safety Power Shutoffs ahead of Friday’s wind event. Wind prone, rural areas that are deeper in the mountains will experience shutoffs first. As the windstorm progresses throughout the day, additional shutoffs will happen. Customers have been notified of the estimated power shutoff times through phone calls, email and text messages, and will continue to receive updates through ongoing communications. 

Following are the company’s best estimates of when power will be shut off to specific communities, however it might be sooner if conditions warrant:

  • Douglas County: 6 a.m. Friday from Toketee Falls east to Diamond Lake, with additional areas added around 4 p.m. 
  • Linn County: 6 a.m. Friday Sweet Home east along Highway 20, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
  • Marion County: 6 a.m. Friday Lyons east along Highway 22, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
  • Lincoln County: 10 a.m. Friday
  • Tillamook County: 10 a.m. Friday
  • Polk County: 10 a.m. Friday

Temporary Community Resource Centers will open at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and will remain open both days until 10 p.m. (unless service is restored earlier) at the following locations. 

  • Douglas County – Glide High School – 18990 N. Umpqua Highway, Glide, OR 97443
  • Marion County – Bethel Baptist Church – 645 Cleveland Street, Aumsville, OR 97325
  • Linn County – Sankey Park – 877 14th Ave, Sweet Home, OR 97386

For all non-emergency questions about the Public Safety Power Shutoff, customers and the public should call Pacific Power at 1-888-221-7070. For a map of affected areas and outage preparation information, please visit www.pacificpower.net/psps

Outage Preparedness and Service Restoration

Pacific Power is bringing in additional personnel and resources to ensure service is restored as quickly and safely as possible once weather conditions allow. Crews will actively patrol lines and remove debris and make repairs if needed. Once that work is complete, Pacific Power will restore service.

Weather-related outages could happen outside of Public Safety Power Shutoff areas. The best time to prepare is now. Check that your outage kit is stocked and ready. Things to include are: 

  • Flashlights or headlamps
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, fans
  • Extra batteries
  • Car chargers for cell phones and electronic devices
  • Bottled water for people and animals (if you rely on electricity to pump water)
  • Frozen cold packs or water frozen in bags or plastic bottles (keep ready in your freezer)
  • Emergency phone numbers, including Pacific Power Customer Service: 1-888-221-7070

Visit pacificpower.net/wildfiresafety for additional information on Public Safety Power Shutoffs, outage preparedness and wildfire safety. 

Willamette National Forest implements forest-wide open fire restrictions including in wilderness areas

Effective today, September 8

Eugene, Ore., Sept. 8, 2022 — Open fire restrictions are in effect on the Willamette National Forest beginning today. A red flag warning will also be in place across the Cascades in anticipation of strong east winds on top of hot and dry conditions. Fire danger has increased to EXTREME on the Willamette National Forest.

All campfires, charcoal or briquette fires, pellet fires, or any other open fires are prohibited under a forest order. Restrictions will also go into effect for chainsaws in campgrounds, off-highway vehicles, and smoking. Portable cooking stoves and lanterns using liquefied or bottled fuel are still allowed as they can be instantly switched off.

Smoking is not allowed except within an enclosed vehicle or building or a developed recreation site. Additionally, welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame is also not allowed. Generators are permitted only in areas devoid of vegetation such as a paved area or developed campsite. Motorized vehicles may operate only on designated trails and roads.

“We have taken this step to help reduce preventable human-caused wildland fires,” said Deputy Fire Staff Officer Chris Donaldson. “Please adhere to these restrictions and encourage others to do the same while enjoying the outdoors.”

Please be aware of current restrictions before you head out and share current information with others who may be unaware of the restrictions. View our alerts at https://tinyurl.com/yff4tjkf and our closures at https://tinyurl.com/3semy5cu for additional information. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @WillametteNF for the latest updates.

Red Cross Cascades Region Urges Residents to be Prepared for Potential Increase of Wildfire Activity
American Red Cross – Cascades Region – 09/08/22 2:19 PM

People in Areas Under a Wildfire Watch, or Visiting Them, are Urged to Prepare

Portland, Ore (September 8, 2022) – The Red Cross Cascades Region is currently supporting two evacuation shelters in Oregon. One for the Rum Creek fire near Grants Pass and another in response to the Van Meter fire burning not far from Klamath Falls. 

Trained volunteers are on hand to provide evacuees with food, water and a safe place to sleep. The Red Cross Cascades Region is closely monitoring the changing weather conditions that could make new or existing wildfires spread more rapidly and potentially force new evacuation shelters to open. 

For up-to-date information and alerts about emergencies in your area and shelter locations, download the Red Cross Emergency App from your app store. It’s free and available to both iPhone and Android users.

The Red Cross urges everyone to be prepared should a wildfire occur in your area. 

“Disasters can happen anywhere,” says Rebecca Marshall, Regional Disaster Officer, for the Red Cross Cascades Region. “With the forecast calling for high winds and an increased wildfire risk across much of our region, it’s important to take the time now to get your family and home prepared. If you are able, you can also register to become a trained Red Cross volunteer to help those in your community.”

Follow the steps below to keep your family safe.

  • Gather your family or household members and delegate responsibilities.
  • Assemble an emergency kit to take with you when you evacuate. For a detailed list of items to include visit www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies.html
  • Prepare an information kit with important documents like medical, banking and insurance records.
  • Save a list of emergency numbers on every cellphone.
  • Plan ahead for your pets and livestock. Ask local officials where you can bring them.
  • Identify a place to meet in case you are separated.
  • Plan and practice several evacuation routes from your neighborhood.

If an evacuation is imminent:

  • Tune in to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Limit exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing (but not locking) windows and doors. Close curtains, shutters, and blinds. Use the recycle mode on your air conditioner.
  • Turn on exterior lights.
  • Remove flammable items from decks and porches.
  • Open gates for animals that cannot be evacuated.
  • Connect a hose to an outside spigot, mark any water sources on your property, and leave a ladder for firefighters.
  • Put your emergency kit in your car. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape, with windows closed and keys in the ignition.
  • Put your best driver at the wheel. Turn on lights, drive slowly and watch out for emergency vehicles.

Evacuate as soon as the order is given. Don’t delay.

Evacuation Levels – What Do They Mean?

Level 1 – “BE READY!“ for potential evacuation.

Level 2 – “BE SET!” to evacuate. You must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice. 

Level 3 – “GO!” evacuate now. Leave immediately!

The post Planned 2-week closure of U.S. Highway 20 near Sweet Home delayed at least 2 days due to wildfire risk appeared first on KTVZ.

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