2020 Oregon wildfires

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2020 Oregon wildfires
Downtown Portland from SE Portland during 2020 wildfires - 2020-09-09 - tedder.jpg
Smoke-filled skies over downtown Portland, viewed from southeast Portland, on September 9, 2020
Statistics
Total fires2,027[1]
Total area1,221,324 acres (494,252 ha)[1]
Buildings destroyed3,000+
Deaths11
Season
← 2019
2021 →
Map of 2020 Oregon wildfires
Drought intensity in the Pacific Northwest as of September 1, 2020

The 2020 Oregon wildfire season was one of the most destructive on record in the state of Oregon. The season is a part of the 2020 Western United States wildfire season. The fires killed at least 11 people, burned more than 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land, and destroyed thousands of homes.[2]

Timeline[edit]

The Oregon Department of Forestry declared fire season beginning on July 5, 2020, signaling the end of unregulated debris burning outdoors.[3]

In early September, unusually high winds and continued dry weather caused the rapid expansion of multiple wildfires in Oregon. Over 1,000,000 acres were burned, and about 40,000 people were evacuated, with about 500,000 people in evacuation warning areas. The cities of Phoenix, Talent, Detroit, and Gates in Oregon were substantially destroyed by the Almeda Drive and Santiam Fires respectively. State-wide, at least 7 people have been killed.[4][5][6] In the Almeda Fire area — between Ashland, Talent, and Phoenix — more than 2,800 structures were destroyed. Around the South Obenchain Fire, which stretched from Shady Cove nearly to Butte Falls, 153 structures were lost. Sheriff Sickler said that these numbers do not differentiate between homes, businesses, outbuildings, and other structures. Assessing the precise nature of those structures lost will fall to local teams in the days and weeks ahead.[7][8] Officials stated that the Almeda Drive Fire was human-caused.[8] On September 11, a man was arrested for arson, for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed multiple homes in Phoenix and merged with the Almeda Drive Fire.[9] A separate criminal investigation into the origin point of the Almeda Drive Fire in Ashland is ongoing.[9]

Causes[edit]

Through the end of July 2020, 90% of Oregon's wildfires had been caused by humans versus a yearly average of 70%, possibly because of increased outdoor recreation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[10]

Rumors and theories[edit]

Rumors spread on social media that antifa activists were deliberately setting fires and preparing to loot property that was being evacuated. Some residents refused to evacuate based on the rumors, choosing to defend their homes from the alleged invasion. Authorities pleaded with residents to ignore the rumors.[11] One Facebook post shared thousands of times falsely stated, "KXL Radio in Portland reported today that Firefighters are now being shot at by suspected Antifa and BLM members."[12] QAnon followers participated in the misinformation, with one false claim that six antifa activists had been arrested for setting fires amplified by Q specifically.[13][14] There were also rumors that members of far-right groups had started some of the fires, though authorities labeled the claims as false, saying that people needed to question claims that they found on social media.[15]

Senator Jeff Merkley, (D-OR) decried Donald Trump's comments blaming forest management for the fires as a "devastating lie.” Speaking on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Merkley blamed climate change for the fires.[16]

One of the major fires, the Almeda fire in Southern Oregon, was worsened by a second blaze that was allegedly the result of arson. The first origin point of the fire is still under active investigation, and arson is suspected there, as well.[17][18]

Several small brush fires in Portland that were quickly put out were also the result of arson by a suspect who was apprehended, released, and then started several more.[19]

List of wildfires[edit]

The following is a list of fires that burned more than 1,000 acres, or produced significant structural damage or loss of life.

Name County Acres Start date Containment date Notes Ref
Neals Hill Harney 3,391 August 5 August 13 Caused by lightning. [20][21]
Frog Crook 4,020 August 16 August 31 Caused by lightning. [22]
Green Ridge Deschutes 4,338 August 16 September 1 Caused by lightning. [23]
Indian Creek Malheur 48,128 August 16 September 16 Unknown cause. [24]
P-515 Jefferson 4,607 August 16 November 13 Caused by lightning; merged into the eastern portion of the combined Santiam Fire on September 11. [25][26]
Lionshead Jefferson, Linn, Marion, Wasco 204,469 August 16 November 13 Caused by lightning; merged with the Beachie Creek Fire on September 8; the combined fires were briefly renamed Santiam Fire, 280 structures destroyed, 10 injuries. [27][28][26]
Beachie Creek Clackamas, Linn, Marion 193,573 August 16 October 28 Unknown cause; merged with the Lionshead Fire on September 8, which were briefly named the Santiam Fire; 1,323 structures destroyed, 10 injuries, 5 fatalities.[28][26][29][30] [31][32]
White River Wasco 17,442 August 17 November 13 Caused by lightning, 1 structure destroyed, 2 injuries, 1 firefighter fatality.[33] [34]
Laurel Wheeler 1,257 August 19 August 31 Caused by lightning. [35]
Holiday Farm Lane, Linn 173,393 September 7 October 26 Unknown cause, 768 structures destroyed, 6 injuries, 1 fatality.[36] [37][38][32]
Brattain Lake 50,951 September 7 October 6 Human-caused, 1 structure destroyed. [39][32]
Two Four Two Klamath 14,473 September 7 October 10 Unknown cause, 48 structures destroyed. [40][32]
Echo Mountain Complex Lincoln 2,552 September 7 September 21 Unknown cause, 293 structures destroyed. [41][42]
Slater Josephine 157,220 September 8 November 12 Originally started in California then spread to Josephine County. [43][44]
Chehalem Mountain–Bald Peak Washington 2,000 September 8 September 14 Caused by campfire on private property. [45][46][47][48][49][50]
Riverside Clackamas 138,054 September 8 December 3 Human-caused, 139 structures destroyed, 4 injuries. [51]
Thielsen Douglas 9,975 September 8 November 16 Unknown cause, 4 injuries. [52]
Almeda Drive Jackson 3,200 September 8 September 14 Human-caused, suspected arson, 3,000+ structures destroyed, body found near origin of the fire, active crime scene investigation, 3 fatalities.[53] [54][55][8][9][56][57][58]
South Obenchain Jackson 32,671 September 8 October 3 Unknown cause, 89 structures destroyed. [59][60]
Archie Creek Douglas 131,542 September 8 November 16 Unknown cause, 111 structures destroyed, 10 injuries, 1 firefighter fatality.[61] [62][63]
Leslie Gulch Malheur 5,147 November 5 November 16 Human-caused. [32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Final ODF fire report for 2020 fire season". October 19, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  2. ^ Newburger, Emma (September 12, 2020). "At least 33 dead as wildfires scorch millions of acres across Western U.S. — 'It is apocalyptic'". CNBC. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "Oregon fire season opens statewide". Herald and News. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Crombie, Noelle (September 9, 2020). "Wildfire cuts swath of destruction in southern Oregon; Phoenix and Talent 'pretty well devastated'". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  5. ^ Hauck, Grace (September 11, 2020). "'We have never seen this': 10% of Oregon forced to evacuate; death toll rises from wildfires across Western states". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Brad Schmidt (September 11, 2020). "Oregon initially said 500,000 people had been evacuated because of wildfires. The numbers didn't add up -- and the state backtracked". oregonlive. Retrieved September 11, 2020. The number of Oregonians told to evacuate because of unprecedented wildfires is more than 40,000 – not the 500,000 residents initially and erroneously announced by Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, Gov. Kate Brown acknowledged Friday following publication of an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive showing the true number of evacuations to be far lower.
  7. ^ "Sheriff: Structures lost between Almeda and Obenchain fires number nearly 3,000". KDRV News. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Benda, David. "Southern Oregon wildfires update: 700-plus homes, businesses destroyed as officials' investigate fire's cause", Redding Record Searchlight. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Deliso, Merideth. "Man charged with arson in connection with Almeda Fire in southern Oregon", ABC News. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Samayoa, Monica (August 3, 2020). "Oregon's human-caused wildfires are increasing and COVID-19 is getting the blame". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  11. ^ Healy, Jack; Baker, Mike (September 11, 2020). "In Oregon, a Year of Political Tumult Extends to Devastating Wildfires" – via NYTimes.com.
  12. ^ "PolitiFact - Fact-checking misinformation about firefighters, antifa in Portland". @politifact.
  13. ^ O'Sullivan, Donie; Toropin, Konstantin. "QAnon fans spread fake claims about real fires in Oregon". CNN.
  14. ^ "West Coast officials are already fighting wildfires. Now they're fighting misinformation, too". NBC News.
  15. ^ "Wildfires spawn false rumors blaming far right, far left for setting them". Los Angeles Times. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Coleman, Justine (September 13, 2020). "Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie'". TheHill. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  17. ^ "Suspect Is Charged With Arson in Oregon Wildfire". September 16, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020 – via NYTimes.com.
  18. ^ Ramakrishnan, Jayati (September 11, 2020). "Man arrested, charged with arson in connection with southern Oregon fire". oregonlive. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  19. ^ Office, Portland Police Public Information. "Suspect Starts Six More Brush Fires, Faces Additional Charges (Photo)". www.portlandoregon.gov. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  20. ^ "Neals Hill Information". InciWeb. August 20, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  21. ^ Chuey, Tim (August 10, 2020). "The Oregon Wildfire Season Is Heating Up".
  22. ^ "Frog Fire Information". Inciweb. September 1, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  23. ^ "Green Ridge Information". Inciweb. September 1, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "Indian Creek Fire Information". Inciweb. September 2, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  25. ^ "P-515 Information". Inciweb. September 10, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  26. ^ a b c "Map: Two big Oregon fires merge, and a third is close". The Mercury News. September 12, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  27. ^ "Lionshead Information". InciWeb. August 16, 2020. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Barney Lerten (September 10, 2020). "Oregon fires near 900,000 acres; Riverside, Beachie Creek expected to merge". KTVZ. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  29. ^ "4 dead, 10 missing in Beachie Creek Fire". KOIN. September 11, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  30. ^ "Oregon environmentalist George Atiyeh confirmed dead in Beachie Creek Fire, family says". CNN. September 26, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  31. ^ "Beachie Creek Fire Information". InciWeb. August 16, 2020. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  32. ^ a b c d e "State of Oregon Fires and Hotspots Dashboard". October 8, 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  33. ^ "Firefighting helicopter pilot dies in White River Fire crash". KOIN. August 25, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  34. ^ "White River Information". InciWeb. August 17, 2020. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  35. ^ "Laurel Fire Information". Inciweb. August 26, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  36. ^ "Oregon man killed in Holiday Farm fire identified as Vida plumber, 59". OregonLive. September 21, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  37. ^ "Holiday Farm Fire Information". InciWeb. September 14, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  38. ^ "Holiday Farm Fire Update September 12". InciWeb. September 12, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  39. ^ "Brattain Fire Information". Inciweb. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  40. ^ "Two Four Two Information". Inciweb. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  41. ^ "Echo Mountain Complex Fire Information". Inciweb. September 17, 2020. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  42. ^ "People searching for answers, housing in aftermath of Echo Mountain Complex Fire near the Oregon coast". KPTV. September 25, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  43. ^ "Slater / Devil Fires Information". inciweb.nwcg.gov. InciWeb. October 27, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  44. ^ Katie Streit (September 10, 2020). "Second person dies in Slater Fire". KOBI. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  45. ^ "Washington County fires have burned up to 2,000 acres". The Oregonian. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  46. ^ "Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire grows to 2,000 acres, 50 percent contained". KPTV. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  47. ^ "Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak is 70% contained". Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  48. ^ Mark Miller, "Most evacuees can return as Chehalem Mountain Fire 75% contained" Portland Tribune website (last accessed 14 September 2020
  49. ^ "Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire 100% contained, Level 3 'GO' orders lifted" KATU News. September 14, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  50. ^ Cassidy Quinn, “Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire in Washington County Caused by Campfire on Private Property." KGW News. September 15, 2020. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  51. ^ "Riverside Fire Information". InciWeb. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  52. ^ "Thielsen Fire Information". InciWeb. October 10, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  53. ^ "Sheriff: Almeda Fire Death Toll Drops to Three; Evacuation Levels being Reduced". KDRV. September 14, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  54. ^ Neumann, Erik; Moriarty, Liam. "The Almeda Drive Fire Causes Extensive Damage To Talent and Phoenix". Jefferson Public Radio. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  55. ^ Crombie, Noelle. "Wildfire cuts swath of destruction in southern Oregon; Phoenix and Talent 'pretty well devastated'". OregonLive.com. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  56. ^ The Oregonian/OregonLive.com (September 15, 2020). "Almeda fire 100% contained, officials say Tuesday". oregonlive. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  57. ^ Patrick O'Connor, Erin (October 20, 2020). "12 hours inside Oregon's Almeda Fire". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  58. ^ "Sheriff: One confirmed death from Almeda Fire, more likely". KDRV News. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  59. ^ "State of Oregon Fires and Hotspots Dashboard". October 6, 2020. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  60. ^ "This will be the final release from Northeast WA IMT 2. It has been an honor to serve your wonderful community, and we wish each one of you a safe recovery". October 3, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  61. ^ "Off duty firefighter dies on Archie Creek Fire in Oregon". Wildfire Today. September 23, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  62. ^ Oregon Office of Emergency Management, "Real-time Assessment and Planning Tool for Oregon (RAPTOR)", (last accessed 10 September 2020)
  63. ^ InciWeb, "Archie Creek Fire Information"

External links[edit]