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Estacada fire grows to over 3,500 acres; cooler temperatures should help firefighters

Stuart Tomlinson | By Stuart Tomlinson |
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on September 16, 2014 at 7:56 AM, updated September 16, 2014 at 8:42 AM
Cooler temperatures, moderate winds, cloudy skies and higher humidity are expected to help firefighters make progress in containing the 36 Pit fire burning near Estacada.
Red flag warnings—detailing the threat of new fires and growth on existing blazes that had been flying off and on for the past week—expired at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Infrared mapping of the fire late Monday night put the fire's size at 3,588 acres. Fire officials they evacuated about 40 homes late Monday afternoon, with another 120 homes put on a level 2 evacuation order, meaning they should be ready to go at a moment's notice.

The cause of the human-caused fire remains under investigation, officials said.
Gov. John Kitzhaber invoked the state's conflagration act, allowing additional resources, including structural firefighters from around the state to be mobilized.

The fire, located about 10 miles south of Estacada, jumped the Clackamas River and Oregon 224 on Sunday and is burning through steep terrain of timber and dry grasses.

An incident management team from Washington state—with officials from federal, state and local fire bosses—took control of the fire Monday night, operating from Timber Park just outside of town. The park is closed to visitors for the duration, officials said.

As of late last night, officials said 7 initial attack crews, 5 hot shot crews, 2 helicopters, 1 bulldozer, 4 fire engines and 2 water tenders were on the fire lines. The number of firefighters is expected to grow Tuesday.

Choking smoke from the fire was at its thickest on Monday, but a dry weather front that brought cooler marine air into the region overnight has cleared some of the smoke away from the Willamette Valley.

As a result, air quality indices that had been unhealthful for sensitive groups for parts of the north valley, returned to good levels on Tuesday morning.

Other locations remained at moderate pollution levels, according to a Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

-- Stuart Tomlinson