LATOURELL, Ore. -- As authorities upgraded evacuation orders relating to the Eagle Creek Fire, some homeowners breathed a sigh of relief.
Dennis Wiancko, who lives in the Latourell area, is one of those homeowners.
“It’s been kind of tense. And I’m real happy to have heard the change of our status so that we can go back today and settle in,” he said.
Wiancko’s home was under a Level 3 order (“leave now”) but was changed to a Level 2 order (“be set”). Under the new order, he was still advised to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
“With our van packed with our valuables and ready to go,” said Wiancko.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office announced the changes Wednesday morning. In addition to Latourell, parts of the Corbett area where also upgraded to the Level 2 status. A Level 1 order (“get ready”) for Troutdale was lifted. Areas that remained under level three orders included the Dodson, Warrendale, and Bridal Veil communities.
While the changes brought joy for some, others were left wondering when they too would be allowed back home.
“We woke up planning to go home today,” said Susan Larsen Leigh.
She and her husband live off of Brower Road, an area that was still under a Level 3 order.
“I started crying. But what can you do?”Larsen Leigh asked when she heard the news that her home was not in the newly upgraded area. “The first few days [of an evacuation] is like a mini-vacation, and now it’s turned out to be a ‘I want to go home’ mode.”
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office announced changes to evacuation levels east of the fire, too, but not in the direction many hoped for. Notably, residents in the Wyeth/Herman Creek Road area were put under Level 3 orders. Fire officials had noted fire growth on the eastern edge of the blaze.
However, parts of Cascade Locks, were upgraded from a Level 3 to Level 2.
Back in Multnomah County, the change in evacuation meant a chance to get caught up on chores for Wiancko.
“[I’ll] put the chairs back out on the porch. Plug in the computer, pay my bills,” said Wiancko in regards to what he’d do when he returned home.
For the first time in over a week, he’ll be sleeping in his own bed.
“I think my back won’t hurt so much. It will be good,” he said while laughing. “Everyone will be more used to things. It’ll be more like normal.”