Neighbors say they saw smoke around 8:30 p.m. in the Chip Ross Park area, and by 9 p.m., the city was illuminated with a red glow. The smell of smoke filled streets throughout the entire city, and by 11 p.m., officials issued a mandatory evacuation of all homes north of Walnut Boulevard between NW 29th Street and NW Century Drive.
Police say no homes have burned, though the blaze damaged porches and fences surrounding some homes.
By 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, police lifted the mandatory evacuation notice.
Firefighters say the 100-acre fire still is not contained, but they have a line around 70 percent of the blaze.
Police say the area is still under a level two evacuation, which means residents should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Residents living between NW Century Drive and NW Highland Drive are also under a level two evacuation.
One evacuee says he was outside watering his yard when he first saw the flames. Skianoush Naeli, who lives in the Timberhill area, says he grabbed his most valuable possessions and ran.
“When I left the house, the fire was getting closer,” he said. “I could see the burning ashes coming from the sky. It was a very scary scene. Because at some point I thought that I had lost my house, but I’m glad that that at least hasn’t happened – yet.”
A mobile command center was stationed at the Benton County Fairgrounds into early Saturday morning, where evacuees were able to get help.
Officials still have not released a cause of the blaze or the extent of its damage, but police will have more information available later Saturday morning.
Stay tuned with KEZI 9 News for the latest developments.