HAPPY VALLEY, OR (KPTV) - Dozens of cars and RVs were parked are parked at the Clackamas Town Center in Happy Valley as people escaped fires burning near their homes.

Those FOX 12 spoke with on Thursday said they’re hoping for the best but expecting the worst. 

Chris Boudreau evacuated from his home in Estacada.

“It’s painful, pretty much just accepted it’s not going to be there when I get back,” Boudreau said.

It’s a sad reality for many who fled their homes, seeking safety from the fires burning in Clackamas County, not knowing if they have a home to go back to.

“We wanna stay close to home to see if we can go back and see if our houses are still there,” Boudreau said. 

Clackamas County pulled fire crews away from the Riverside Fire on Thursday afternoon, concerned the fire would merge with the Beachie Fire and become unpredictable.

Michael Smelser evacuated from his home in Molalla.

“It’s been tough to sleep at night, even though we have a bed,” Smelser said. “You wake up, you look at the hillside and wonder, ‘everything you’ve ever worked for is now on the ground in ash.’”

Smelser and his family evacuated from Molalla with their RV, boat, puppy, and anything else they could grab before they left in a hurry.

“You would want a big semi-truck to grab everything,” Smelser said. “We told her, ‘grab the toys, you don’t want to burn.’ It’s hard to do to your kid. Say ‘hey, grab the toys, if you leave them here, they could burn.’ It’s hard to do.”

Even though this is a heart-wrenching situation, it’s nice knowing the community is there for each other.

Carrie Clarke evacuated from her home in Molalla.

“The fact that everybody that’s been around that has stepped up to help in any way they can, it’s a nice feeling,” Clarke said.

Getting to Clackamas Town Center wasn’t a quick trip for some people leaving their homes.

What would normally be a 10-minute drive from Beavercreek Road at Highway 213 to Clackamas Town Center took FOX 12 crews 45 minutes on Thursday.

Some evacuees at Clackamas Town Center said it took them even longer.

“Traffic was terrible,” Boudreau said. “It took em’ over five hours to get from Beavercreek to here.”

Clackamas County officials on Thursday night said fire crews have reengaged where it’s safe to do so. They said they’re not sure if the Beachie Creek and Riverside fires have officially merged, as visibility is too low for them to tell at this point.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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