Assessing damage and making repairs

The destruction we're seeing from wildfires across the state is heartbreaking.

Wildfire debris on OR 138E blocking the highway.
Wildfire debris on OR 138E blocking the highway.
Oregon Wildfire Resources

Even with wildfires still burning, our crews have been assessing damage on hundreds of miles of road, removing thousands of trees damaged by fire, and inspecting culverts, bridges, guardrail and pavement. Take a look at some of the videos posted on our YouTube channel or photos we’ve uploaded to Flickr.

Our work will continue location by location as conditions allow, but it will be some time before some roads reopen – partially or fully – to traffic. Even when they do reopen, we’re going to continue monitoring for hazards including landslides or loose rock in areas where wildfires have scarred the landscape.

We’ve started removing hazard trees on OR 138 E, OR 126 McKenzie Highway and OR 22, North Santiam Highway. While we’re still figuring out how many trees we’ll need to remove, we estimate along the OR 22 corridor alone, the amount of hazard trees is in the hundreds of thousands.

Roads will remain closed until we can remove debris from affected areas, inspect slopes for weakness, inspect bridges, pavement, culverts, signs, guardrail and other structures for damage, and make repairs. Rock scaling — where we bring down materials that threaten roads — will be used where needed.

It’s important to understand that even after roads are fully reopened, heavy rain is a concern in fire-stricken areas and we may have more work to do in order to stabilize hillsides or clear debris from falls. Slides and debris flows are a particular concern — especially after rains — in areas where fire stripped away vegetation, tree roots and underbrush, creating greater slide danger.

This means that as a traveler, you’ll want to expect partial openings allowing limited traffic while work continues will be common. You can expect to see flaggers or pilot cars, and we want folks to plan for frequent lane closures.

Know before you go and check for updates on closures. If you’ve never used the tool before, you can zoom in and click into the map icons for details. Posts are updated when there is a change in conditions, so if the time stamp appears “old,” this is still the current and updated status for the highway.

Like all Oregonians, the destruction we’re seeing from wildfires across the state is heartbreaking. We cannot thank everyone enough for the outpouring of support to our crews who’ve been working tirelessly in difficult conditions – even while some are enduring the same losses of home and property. We extend our gratitude as well, to all of the emergency responders and firefighters out there who work alongside us to keep us safe.

As we work to repair the roads, we’ve witnessed Oregonians from all corners of the state working together in service to their neighbors, friends and families. This kindness grows -like a beautiful forest – and while our landscape is scarred, the beauty of our state remains in us. Let’s continue moving forward with seeds of kindness. We are so proud to work in the service of Oregonians. Take care, be safe and reach out to those who may need your kindness even more in the coming days, weeks and months.