By Mike Cerullo
EUGENE, Oregon (KEZI) — Hundreds of people who live in Oakridge and the surrounding areas are temporarily sheltering at both the Lane Events Center and Lane Community College as the Cedar Creek Fire continues to grow.
As of Sunday morning, the fire was reported at 85,926 acres. Officials said the fire is threatening 2,230 homes and 443 commercial structures.
Evacuees are holding their breathe, hoping they’re able to return to their homes soon.
Terry Cardoso and Trudy Hammond said they evacuated Friday once the Level Three (Go Now) evacuation order took effect.
“We didn’t really have a lot of space to grab personal things for us,” Hammond said.
“What we got on,” Cardoso said.
They grabbed everything they could and joined a line of cars heading west down Highway 58.
“We had that trailer full of stuff, so when we went to Level Two we had to empty the trailer and reload it with what we had,” Hammond said. “And then before we knew it, we hit Level Three.”
Hammond described what was going through her head in those moments.
“We’re going to lose everything,” Hammond said. “All my pictures of my daughter are going to go up in flames.”
Inside their truck and trailer, they had with them eight rescue dogs. Cardoso and Hammond run an animal rescue in Oakridge called Mountain Respite & Mission Rescue Safety Animal Center.
Just last year, they bought a new home with space to care for more animals, Hammond said.
“Everything that we’ve got established is now in harms way of becoming ashes,” Hammond said.
It’s an all too familiar feeling for Cardoso, Hammond, and others who have lived in Oakridge the past few years.
“There was the fire previously as well that threatened and then this current fire right here, so it’s definitely exhausting,” Hammond said.
This year, they made it to Springfield Friday evening and set up for the night in a church parking lot.
“We found a church parking lot that offered a space at Crossfire at 28th and Main in Springfield,” Hammond said.
When they woke up, they set off to find a temporary home for three large Great Danes they took with them. Judi Sanders at Many Miles 2 Home Dog Rescue stepped up, offering to care for the three Great Danes while Cardoso and Hammond wait for officials to allow them to eventually return home.
“I felt like I had to help,” Sanders said. “When you rescue, whether you’re rescuing animals or anything, for that matter, you feel the need, and you just start doing.”
Cardoso and Hammond are keeping their spirits high. They said when they’re able to return home, they’re going to pick up right where they left off.
“We’re survivors,” Cardoso said. “We’ll get through this.”
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