UPDATED 8:30pm Tuesday:
The Lane County Sheriff's Office has upgraded the evacuation levels for the Upper McKenzie Valley.
Level 3 "GO" Evacuate Now: East of the junction of Hwy 242 and Hwy 126, including Belknap Hot Springs, Camp Yale and campgrounds in the area of Hwy 242 and Clearlake Cutoff Rd., north to Deer Creek. Level 3 means leave now, do not wait. The recommended route is Hwy 126 WEST.
Level 2 "Be Set" evacuation level for McKenzie Valley along Hwy 126 between milepost 49-53. Residents who can evacuate now are encouraged to do so.
Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation level for the lower portion of the McKenzie Valley.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees at McKenzie Middle School, 51187 Blue River Drive, Vida.
Lane County has set up a joint information center for questions about local fire conditions and evacuation levels. The number is 541-682-3977.
The Separation and Avenue fires are among 16 actively burning in the Willamette National Forest. They’re threatening the communities of Rainbow, McKenzie Bridge and Belknap Springs-- where residents are living in a state of readiness.
(Reporter's Note: At approximately 6:04 pm Tuesday, Level 2 Evacuation was ordered for the Upper McKenzie area from Milepost 49 to 53. That is "Get set" response.)
Wildfire smoke, which continues to blanket the region, is some of the worst veteran fire personnel have seen.
A Level 1 evacuation notice is in place from Road 19 East to all of McKenzie Bridge, Highway 242 and East King Drive and North Bank Road.
Level 1 is the point at which residents should be making decisions about what to pack up, what route to take and where to go. Linda Cooke is Lane County Emergency Manager. She says now is the time to be moving livestock and making a plan for moving people with special needs. Cooke urged evacuees to head west on Highway 126 to Springfield, away from fires.
“If we do ever get to that Level 3—which means we’re going to have to have some extreme fire behavior happen-- our line of advice to you is to seek shelter with friends, family or in a hotel,” says Cooke.
Cooke is working with the Red Cross to open an evacuation center at the McKenzie School on Blue River Drive.
“If we activate and open up that evacuation center, you’ll also see a big trailer out there called Lane County Animals in Disaster Trailer,” Cooke says. “And that’s so that you will not hesitate to evacuate and bring your pets with you. And we’re going to have veterinarians and different supplies available so you can be with your pets as you evacuate.”
Cooke spoke to about 250 residents and fire personnel who attended a community meeting at the Upper McKenzie Community Center Sunday night.