City News

Vitae Springs fire 100% contained

Firefighters have completely contained the grass fire that burned 164 acres south of Salem over the weekend and forced over 100 families to evacuate their homes, the city of Salem announced Thursday.

The Vitae Springs Fire, which began late on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 9, required more than 300 firefighters to contain over the past six days, according to a news release from the city. No people were injured or structures lost in the fire.

The fire burned in the area south of South Vitae Springs Road and west of South Skyline Road, located in the Salem Suburban Rural Fire Protection District. In total, 119 homes in the area were under evacuation orders to leave their homes, while another 516 were told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, emergency responders told Salem Reporter.

City firefighters and crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry have been on scene around the clock since the fire began, the city said.

“Residents in the area should be aware that smoke sightings are expected to continue for several weeks or until the rainy season begins this fall. If you see flames or signs of an active fire at any time, please call 911,” the city said.

Future updates on the fire will come from the city, not the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the city release said.

Many people living near the fire area reported confusion or concerns over the emergency alerts sent about the fire, which initially linked to an incorrect map, and didn’t always make clear whether residents lived within the evacuation zone.

Gregory Walsh, the city’s emergency manager, told Salem Reporter the city will review the response to the fire, including the emergency alert system, in the next week or two. People with concerns about the fire response can email [email protected].

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected]m or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.