MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - Fire crews continue to make progress on the Beachie Creek Fire burning in the Cascades east of Salem.
The fire has stayed around 192,000 cares and is 38 percent contained. On Monday, evacuation notices were lowered for some areas around the fire.
ODOT opened a stretch of Highway 22 up to Gates Hill Road in Gates. A roughly one-mile section of North Fork Road was also reopened, but is still closed from Pioneer Road and further east.
On Monday, families leaving in some of those areas were able to return home for the first time.
"This is our first view,” Faith Soto said. “It wasn’t until I hugged my neighbor that I lost it.”
Soto and her husband left their home off North Fork Road on Labor Day. Two weeks later, they were able to return. Their home was destroyed by the fast-moving Beachie Creek Fire.
“It burnt the paint off our wood stove,” Soto said. “Front entry was right here, we just put a new door and a new storm door on a few months ago.”
Their home has been reduced to ash, a foundation and twisted metal. The last two weeks, Soto says, has been tough only seeing a few pictures of the destruction. Soto says she had tried to stay busy while they waited for North Fork Road to reopen. She says she went to work and started planning for a new home.
Melted aluminum rims. We’re talking with families who lost everything up North Fork Rd. A mile stretch has been reopened, some get to go home, while others are seeing what’s left for the first time. It’s just heart breaking. #BeachieCreekFire pic.twitter.com/3VgeNlElHc— John Hendricks (@JohnKPTV) September 21, 2020
Soto and her husband had only lived in the home for two years, they had started to build a life and a place to call their own.
“We got married in 2018, we bought this in October and we have been building our lives here, and it’s all gone,” Soto said.
Like so many living in the Santiam Canyon, the road ahead will be tough. They say they plan to rebuild and start over again.
“We have a really strong community, and that we are going to be rebuild, kind of holding each other up,” Soto said.