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Portland Water Bureau monitoring spread of Camp Creek Fire. Portland’s drinking water remains safe.

News Article
August 27, 2023 update on the Camp Creek Fire.

The Portland Water Bureau continues to monitor the spread of the Camp Creek Fire burning in the Bull Run Watershed, which is estimated to be 1,226 acres and zero percent contained as of 9 a.m. today.  The fire is approximately 1.3 miles from Reservoir 1 and approximately 2.4 miles from the Water Bureau’s Headworks treatment facility. 

The fire perimeter is primarily growing away from the Headworks treatment facility, and near-term weather forecasts predict that winds will continue to push the fire away from Headworks. However, fire in the watershed always poses a risk to Portland Water Bureau facilities and staff, and weather conditions can change quickly. We are continuing to work closely with fire agencies to monitor the threat levels to our staff and infrastructure. We are developing multiple contingency plans, so we are prepared in the event we are forced to evacuate staff from the watershed.

“We take our responsibilities to deliver safe drinking water to our community and protect our staff very seriously,” said Gabriel Solmer, Water Bureau Director. “We continue to closely monitor the situation, and we are preparing for a variety of possible outcomes, including in a scenario in which we need to evacuate the watershed for employee safety.”

The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) continues to monitor water quality and has yet to see any fire-related impacts. 

Fire retardants were used in limited areas during the initial attack on Friday, August 25, to support fire suppression efforts and protect the Bull Run Watershed. Fire retardants may be used again to support firefighting efforts. Retardant will not be used in defined exclusion zones that drain into the Bull Run Reservoirs to protect water quality. The Portland Water Bureau will continue to rigorously monitor for potential impacts to water quality.

The Portland Water Bureau has been working closely with the agencies in charge of fighting these fires since first alerted to the blaze. The U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and local fire response agencies are on the scene and have activated a ground crew and aerial resources, including helicopters and water-scooper aircraft, to combat the fire. The Portland Water Bureau does not have a direct firefighting role but provides critical information about the watershed, PWB facilities and operations to support the Forest Service in their response in the area.  

The Water Bureau will continue to make periodic updates to keep the public informed.  

What You Can Do 

While the fire does not immediately threaten Portland’s water supply, it is important to stay informed, be prepared for emergencies and stay clear of the area to ensure access for emergency responders.  

Follow the Water Bureau on X (Twitter) and Facebook, and visit our website,, for the latest information about water quality and supply, updates related to this incident and other Water-related news.  

Information about emergency water storage is available in multiple languages on the Regional Water Providers Consortium website.  

Water Bureau will continue to rely on two water sources 

On Thursday, Aug. 24, we activated our groundwater supply to augment the Bull Run during this extended hot and dry summer. At this time, the bureau will continue to rely on a blend of water from the Bull Run Watershed and our groundwater source, the Columbia South Shore Well Field. 

About the Portland Water Bureau

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day.