Evacuees confused over letter left on tents, RVs at Skamania Fai - KPTV - FOX 12

Evacuees confused over letter left on tents, RVs at Skamania Fairgrounds

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Some wildfire evacuees at the Skamania County Fairgrounds say they were confused by a letter saying they may have to pay if they stay past Thursday. 

After Cascade Locks dropped from a Level Three evacuation to a Level Two Wednesday, many are able to go home while others aren't so fortunate.

Those who have been staying at the fairgrounds received a letter Wednesday stating if evacuees are not off the fairgrounds by Thursday, they will be charged a $20-25 fee.

For some people staying, the letter adds more anxiety to an already difficult time.

"This is not over, this is not over by a long shot," said Brandon Brown.

Brown has been at the fairgrounds since September 3. On Wednesday he offered to give people rides back to their homes once the Level Three evacuation dropped.

"I've been taking people back and forth to Hood River because they have no way to get back and forth, and now I come home...it's just," said Brown.

When he returned to the fairgrounds, he found the letter on his RV. The fairgrounds will start to charge a $20-25 fee after Thursday.

The Skamania County Sheriff's Office said the letter was written by Alex Hayes, the director of community events. The letter stated the county is happy to assist people who need help and will provide free camping through Thursday, but then the regular daily fee may be due after. 

The goal of the letter was to let people living in areas downgraded to a Level 2 evacuation status know they will be charged the regular rate since they are able to go back home. The sheriff's office said Thursday that no one under a mandatory evacuation level will have to pay. 

But for people like Brown, it's not that simple.

"A guy from Carson donated his time to get me across the bridge when there was flames, and I'm stuck here where they said we were welcome, and I don't have anywhere to go back to," said Brown.

The sheriff's office says there is wiggle room about the charge for people like Brown, something that wasn't clarified in the letter.

“They want us to move back into a Level 2 fire danger by Friday and we may have to leave at any moment to come back over here," said Brown.

The Red Cross says they have no knowledge of the letter. They say evacuees who have left but still need assistance are able to come back for shelter or food. They will continue to provide assistance free of charge.

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