Evacuation notices near Hwy 126 have residents preparing to leave

Residents near McKenzie Valley are prepared to evacuate.

MCKENZIE VALLEY, Ore. - A Level 1 Evacuation notice was issued for communities in the Upper McKenzie Valley on Saturday, just off of Highway 126.

Comunities like Rainbow, Belknap Springs and McKenzie Bridge are just miles away from the Horse Creek Fires burning in the Willamette National Forest.

McKenzie Bridge is a community full of lodges and resorts, just like McKenzie Bridge Country Place, it gives people an opportunity to experience the outdoors. However, with fire nearby, business owners are now concerned about their property.

The local economy relies heavily on the hospitality industry, and many residents, like John Robbins, rent out their cabins to out-of-towners.

Usually the cabins overlook the McKenzie river with breathtaking views, but the wildfires around the state have changed that.

"You can't see very far, the river disappears with the smoke," said Robbins.

Robbins says that the smoke has affected his business, causing families to cancel weddings and other reservations.

"I've largely give up for this year," said Robbins. "I don't think people should come here and do things outdoors with the smoke - it's unhealthy."

The staff that cleans the cabins for guests are also struggling, with the smoke making it difficult to even breathe.

"I have a horrendous cough," said one of the workers. "I blow my nose every morning and it's full of blood."

The smoke is the least of the community's worries.

Robbin's cabin is just three miles away from the Horse Creek Fire that prompted a Level 1 Evacuation Notice.

The Lane County Sheriff's Office says that while they are not telling people to leave at this time, they are encouraging people to get ready to evacuate if things get worse.

Robbins says he is keeping a close eye on the fire in case they need to make a quick exit out of town.

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