UPDATE: Evacuation order lifted, residents can return to south Salem homes as fire smolders

UPDATE: Sunday 11:30 a.m. – The Marion County Sheriff’s Office announced that the evacuation order keeping people out of their homes in the Vitae Springs area was being lifted at noon Sunday, Sept. 11.

“Overnight the fire remained within the existing containment lines and fire crews from numerous regional agencies continue to assist Salem Fire Department crews. The fire is expected to continue to smolder and produce smoke for an extended period,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“Fire officials will work directly with residents living at properties with fire activity,” the statement said.

The relief center operated at Judson Middle School will close Sunday afternoon.

Authorities said those returning to the heart of the wildfire that broke out Friday afternoon will remain on a Level 2 alert, meaning they will have to be ready to go in a moment’s notice.

Those areas include:

• Vitae Springs Road between South Skyline Road and River Road

• West side of Skyline Road from Vitae Springs Road to South Cole Road

• South Orville Road

• Riversprings Road to Prospect Ridge

A detailed map of the evacuation levels, including a continuing Level 1 for some areas of south Salem, is available online HERE.


Additional firefighters were expected in Salem on Sunday to help mop up the Vitae Springs Fire as evacuation zones remain in place, according to a city statement.

No information was released on when people could return to their homes they had to evacuate Friday.

The city said three 20-person private firefighting crews would move through the fire area, mapped at 124 acres, to extinguish hot spots. They would be joining local firefighters who in some instances had worked 48 hours, the city said.

No structures were destroyed and there have been no injuries, according to the city’s statement.

The red flag warning for east winds was dropped by the National Weather Service, which forecast a high of 85 for Salem Sunday from a high of 90 on Saturday. South winds of 3 to 7 mph were expected with a 20% chance of showers overnight.

THE HELPERS: Agencies responding

Willamette Valley Communications Center

Salem Fire Department

Salem Police Department

Salem Public Works Department

Independence Police Department

Dallas Fire

Polk County Fire District

Polk County Sheriff

Marion County Public Works Department

Marion County Public Health Department

Marion County Fire District 1

Marion County Sheriff

Yamhill Fire

Jefferson Fire

Keizer Fire

Turner Fire

Dayton Fire

Falck Ambulance

Dallas Police

Marion County Search and Rescue

Oregon State Fair

American Red Cross

Salem-Keizer School District

Oregon State Fire Marshal

Oregon State Veterinarian

ANIMALS: Volunteers to the rescue

According to Marion County Emergency Management, 12 dogs, seven cats, 10 rabbits, and one lizard were helped at the school. At the fairgrounds, emergency shelter was provided to one horse, two ducks, two sheep, two alpacas and nine chickens.

Additionally, Acres of Hope youth ranch in Independence took in about 30 horses, according to social media accounts.

MEANTIME: A separate fire

Fire destroyed two homes on west Salem early Saturday and damaged a third, fire officials reported.

The homes were at 1802 Best Rd. N.W., south of Northwest Orchard Heights Road.

Tamara Pugmire lives across the street from the homes and said she was roused by an unusual popping sound.

She said the two rental homes were occupied and that she alerted other neighbors before preparing for her own evacuation. The two homes sit in a grove of trees, she said.

“It was a miracle the firefighters got it out,” she said.

No details about the fire were provided by city officials.

Authorities released this map Friday night showing areas of Level 3 mandatory evacuation in red and Level 2 evacuation alerts for people to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.


Vitae Springs fire contained, mop up in progress, evacuations remain in place

BREAKING: Brush fire forcing evacuations in south Salem as crews surround the blaze

Contact Editor Les Zaitz: [email protected] 

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