Residents of Idleyld Park will be allowed to access their properties on Thursday from noon until 7 p.m., according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Access will be granted to residents only, and individuals will be asked to provide proof of residency at checkpoints. Members of the media and general public will not be permitted. Search and Rescue volunteers, deputies and Oregon State Police troopers will be assisting in the process.
“This will be the first look most of these community members have had to see the damages to their homes,” DCSO spokesperson Brad O’Dell said. “We want to provide an opportunity for them to see their properties without the pressure of the media or other members of the public, while still maintaining control over the hazard area.”
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin and Douglas County commissioners have been working to facilitate this return for the past several days, O’Dell said. Douglas County Public Works and the Oregon Department of Transportation have been working hard to remove immediate hazards from the roadways and on the right of ways in order to facilitate this effort,” according to the release.
“We recognize the need for individuals to have the opportunity to access their properties to assess damages, collect items or take pictures for insurance claims,” O’Dell said. “It is critically important that residents wishing to return understand that there are inherent risks with returning to the area. There are hazard trees, falling debris and other hazards which have not been mitigated on private properties, which could cause serious injury or loss of life.”
When returning to the area, residents are asked to drive cautiously and watch for debris, firefighting efforts, utility work and other activities that may be taking place.
Because of the hazardous conditions, limited visibility with heavy smoke and other safety concerns, everyone visiting the area is asked to leave the area by 7 p.m.
“We express our deepest sympathies to those who have lost their homes and properties due to this devastating wildfire,” said Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman.
He said commissioners are grateful that residents heeded warnings from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, OSP troopers and search and rescue volunteers.
“The fact that there has been no reported loss of life is remarkable,” he said.
The announcement comes as fire crews have established 20% containment on the Archie Creek Fire. As of Tuesday night, the fire was estimated at slightly more than 125,000 acres.
To date, 109 homes have been lost to the Archie Creek Fire, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday evening.
As more resources are made available, nearly 800 total personnel are fighting the Archie Fire.
Suppression efforts are presently focused on the fire’s southern edge along Little River Road and further east in the Panther Creek and Apple Creek areas.
The established containment line from South Calapooya Creek east of Sutherlin south to Glide remains strong with no reported issues.
Four helicopters and two single-engine air tankers remain available to deploy when the heavy smoke layer begins to clear.
Further east, the Thielsen Fire near Diamond Lake grew to 6,700 acres Tuesday and remains at 1% containment.