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Traffic stopped for hours as evacuees escape Lincoln County wildfires

The evacuation orders closed down sections of Highway 18 and Highway 101. Hundreds of drivers sat for hours trying to evacuate.

OTIS, Ore. — A fast moving wildfire near the Oregon coast forced the evacuation of some residents in Lincoln County.

The Echo Mountain Complex fire started near the town of Otis, along Highway 18. The fire is a combination of two fires, the Echo Mountain Fire and the Kimberling Fire. Combined they were over 1,000 acres Wednesday evening.

The fire forced residents and Labor Day vacationers to evacuate the coastal town of just over 9,000 people.

Barb Teyema of Gresham was visiting with friends when the condo complex they were staying at was evacuated.

"It's a little scary to go home because all of our kids live in Oregon City, Mollala, East County," she said, "There's fires out in all those areas, so several of them have had to evacuate and are at our homes while we're gone. It's very frightening to think that fires are all over the state."

RELATED: Live updates: Multiple fires burning in Oregon, SW Washington

The evacuation orders closed down sections of Highway 18 and Highway 101. Highway 101 was quickly bogged down with traffic as hundreds of cars sat for hours trying to head south out of the city.

Brandy Kelley grabbed her two kids and she and her boyfriend took off, not knowing when they'd see home again. Kelley said they sat in traffic for over 4 hours trying to leave town.

"It's scary. I'm trying not to cry while I'm going through all this," she said. "Leaving my house, I have no idea what I'm going to come back to. I'm hoping that everything's still standing. It's so close, it's hard to tell. It's a burden, it's a huge emotional toll on yourself."

Not everyone in Lincoln City evacuated. Julia Greenwald and her husband decided to stay behind for the time being. She lives right on the beach, but did say her car was packed and ready to go if she had to.

"If for some reason we've misjudged and don't have enough time and the road is blocked and we can't get out, we feel pretty comfortable that we can go down on the beach and be out of the way of flames," she said. "We have a couple other neighbors that have their cars parked on our property so they can get out a little faster or also be able to escape down on the beach."

An evacuation shelter was originally set up at the Oregon Coast Community College in South Beach. It has now moved to the Newport Recreation Center located at 225 SE Avery St.

Samaritan North Hospital in Lincoln City evacuated patients and staff to a hospital in Newport out of caution Wednesday.

Get the latest updates on evacuations and wildfires from Lincoln County

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