|9/3/2007 2:21:00 PM|
GW Fire: Black Butte Ranch evacuation underway - UPDATED Monday, September 3, 2007, 5 p.m.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Monday, September 3, Black Butte Ranch (BBR) issued an evacuation notice sending hundreds of cars, residents and guests toward Sisters.
"They just told us we need to leave. There is a huge plume of smoke and the ranch has shut down all its operations. The high-low siren is blaring. I am hoping that it is just precautionary since they are going to be using the lake to secure more water," said Paula Reents as she and her husband prepared to leave BBR for Sisters.
The American Red Cross set up a disaster relief center in Sisters at Sisters Community Church,15220 McKenzie Hwy.
"We have been here since the first, we came out that morning and checked out the site and got it ready to be a shelter. We had no idea when they would evacuate or even if they would. But we wanted to be ready," said Donald Scott with the Red Cross.
Although they are prepared to house up to a hundred people, the Red Cross does not think it likely that it will be necessary. "We have cots, blankets and can take care of people if they want to stay. But most people just come in and register then leave. In the past, most people have come in and registered then left. Most people who have a home at Black Butte don't need a shelter. They can afford a hotel and a restaurant, but if somebody needs it, it is here and available," said Scott.
Elaine Drakulich, the new Sisters schools superintendent and a resident of BBR, was at Sisters Community Church seeing if the school district could help if there was a need for more housing for the evacuees. After being assured that the need was met she said: "We have a family gathering this weekend and everyone is gone except for my 81 year old mother. I need to take my mother to Portland. I'll take her home, get a good night's sleep, get up at five and be back here by eight."
For some there was almost a carnival atmosphere, one teenage girl was listening to her iPod and playing an air guitar as she danced around, while the adults were discussing where they would spend the night. Others were obviously concerned about their homes but still expressed confidence in the BBR Fire Department. The parking lot quickly filled and at times there were queues of four or five people waiting to fill out the forms at the Red Cross center.
"We are going to going to stay at a motel in Bend. We want to get far enough away so that we won't have the smoke. We have had some friends who have offered for us to stay, but my husband has a small cold and we think it is better for us to just to stay in a motel. But later we may stay with friends if this goes on for a while," said Beverly McDonald permanent resident at BBR.
In spite of the optimism about the BBR Fire Department there were still some concerns being voiced.
"I know the Forest Service just said the evacuation was only for the change in weather, but you see all those fire truck coming in from Prineville, Crooked River and all those places and you can't help but say: Those guys fight structure fires they don't fight forest fires," said Tom Stearns, a part time BBR resident.
Posted: Monday, September 3, 2007
Article comment by:
Thanks so much for your GW Fire coverage. Yesterday, I could somehow link to a map of the fire, but I can no longer find it. Can you get that link back?
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