LINCOLN CITY — On Wednesday morning, residents in and around Lincoln City who were issued Level 3 (go now) evacuation orders due to the Echo Mountain Complex fire received their notices in a few different ways.
According to Casey Miller, Lincoln County public information officer, residents first received orders via the county’s emergency alert system.
“We have our Lincoln County alerts system that has a database of known landlines that we receive from (telephone service) providers, and then people have the ability to opt in to receive alerts on their cellphones,” Miller said. He added about 10,000 residents receive notifications on their cellphones.
For information on how to sign up and receive Lincoln County alerts, follow instructions found at https://bit.ly/3mbPHIA.
Additionally, Miller told the News-Times that first responders, such as law enforcement and fire personnel, went door to door Wednesday to let people know they were under evacuation orders.
So, how are evacuation areas determined by local officials?
“You have firefighters and sheriff’s (personnel) and other law enforcement on scene, and they’re working with the best information available out there about fire lines,” Miller said. “They use ground reports from firefighters and officials, current weather forecasts and wind estimates and everything they have at their disposal to make evacuation determinations.”
He said that on Wednesday, officials with the county were determined to err on the side of caution when establishing the scope of evacuation zones.
“We never want to underestimate the size of an area to be evacuated,” Miller said.
He credited Jenny Demaris, Lincoln County emergency manager, with building strong relationships among interagency partners, which went a long way toward communication efforts in the early stages of fire and emergency service response.
“Our ability to communicate among our partners has been something that emergency services has been prioritizing, and those relationships built with our community partners really came together this week,” Miller said. “It really showed how critical it is that we are a tight team, and that’s something Jenny has been working on for years.”
On Thursday afternoon, Miller was unable to predict how soon evacuation orders could be lifted and displaced residents might be able to return, but did indicate reported damage caused by the fire up to that point could have been far greater in scope.
“Considering all the conditions, I feel like we can be pretty darned thankful so far,” he said.
Early Thursday afternoon, Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson warned that though winds had shifted to a southwesterly flow and gave firefighters more of an advantage in battling the blaze, Lincoln City wasn’t yet out of peril.
“This could turn again at any time,” Anderson said. “We’re not of out danger by any means just yet, so we need people to stay on alert and stay informed with information from our official outlets.”