Crews fight small fire in Silver Falls State Park, children evacuated

An air tanker makes a retardant drop on a fire burning in Silver Falls State Park on Friday, July 13, 2018. (Photo: Chopper 2/KATU)

Firefighters jumped into action to fight a small fire that broke out in the southeastern corner of Silver Falls State Park Friday.

Late Friday night fire officials said the fire had spread to about 10 acres in size and is “creeping along in heavy timber” in a very remote part of the park.

About 45 firefighters are battling the blaze and two air tankers are making retardant drops on the fire, officials said. A helicopter is also making water drops.

Officials aren't sure on the exact size of the fire since firefighters haven't been able to reach the flames due to difficult terrain.

"They've just been trying to get ground crews close to the fire. They haven't been able to do that yet, so what's happening now and tonight is chainsaw work -- it's cutting paths through this underbrush to get to where they think the fire is based on reports they've been getting from the aircraft," said Chris Havel, Oregon State Parks spokesperson.

The fire forced 185 children and staff with a YMCA youth camp staying at Camp Silver Creek to move to the park's office. The children's parents picked them up from there, said Havel.

"The head instructor of the whole group said there was a fire and we were all like pretty spooked," said camper Sasha Sychov-Hanoosh.

For parents, the sudden evacuation meant some nervous moments as they rushed to pick up their kids.

"I got a phone call from my daughter asking if I was on my way, and so I knew what that was about and immediately started putting my shoes on, started reading the emails on the way up," said Jennifer Kimball.

Authorities said the fire was not close to the camp, but the evacuation decision came out of an abundance of precaution.

"The fire is not near Camp Silver Creek, but firefighters were concerned that if the winds picked up and the fire started spotting, started throwing itself forward, that there wouldn't be time to get the camp emptied. So as a precaution they asked everybody to leave," Havel said.

Havel said the flames are in a very lightly used part of the park, near the Buck Mountain trail and Perimeter trail.

The park is still open but officials said some backcountry trails near the fire have been closed.

Click here for updated information on closures.

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