Hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon were ordered to leave their homes on Thursday as wildfires encroached on their properties. The evacuations clogged highways, emptied entire towns and sparked confusion in a state that has not grappled with wildfires of this size before.
Large-scale evacuations in the state began within the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon’s largest city. Clackamas county, home to some 420,000 people in the metro’s south, was already under varying levels of fire alert when officials on Thursday afternoon told residents of the city of Molalla to leave.
From early afternoon, bumper-to-bumper traffic streamed north on state route 213 from Molalla towards Oregon City. The highway’s northbound lanes were clogged with RVs, trailers, trucks and smaller vehicles carrying tool boxes, luggage, trail bikes and horses.
The caravan was just one part of a half-million strong evacuation in a state confronted by the worst fire conditions in recent history, and,…