Moccasin Hill Fire Forces Evacuations

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NEAR SPRAGUE RIVER, Ore. — While fire crews work to contain the Moccasin Hill Fire, hot spots continue to burn near evacuated areas.

The sky above Sprague River which was clear Sunday afternoon, is now filled with smoke, helicopters and air tankers.

“I’d seen how far the fire was so I went back home and started preparing for evacuation,” said Sprague River resident Vince Belleci.

Belleci only has a warning to evacuate, but stayed up till 2 a.m. pulling important documents and mementos and cutting brush on his lot. He’s lived in the area for 40 years, been through other devastating fires, and even used to own a cabin in the area.

“It was saved during the Skunk Fire, but I’m sorry to hear that the cabin, was completely destroyed during the Moccasin Hill Fire,” said Belleci.

His old cabin isn’t alone. So far, 6 homes and 14 other structures have been lost in the fire that is pushing 3,000 acres.

“It’s hot, it’s dry, when the relative humidity goes down and the temperatures go up, it just creates a perfect storm for fire,” said Moccasin Hill Fire Public Information Officer Hallie Rasmussen.

The fire began on private land, and the cause is still under investigation. Weather, however, is playing a roll.

“You can see right now, when it starts to pick up a  little bit, you’re going to have trees maybe start  torching and under flames that weren’t before, so  the flames will move into the tops of the trees,” Rasmussen.

Between 50 and 100 people have received orders to evacuate. As the Red Cross shelter begins to have more and more people through the doors, Belleci said the community remains strong.

“We don’t look at the consequences at the time we’re needed, we’re there to help,” said Belleci.