Most of Oregon is in extreme fire danger, as several fires are already burning, evacuations have been ordered in several regions and power has been shut off to thousands of customers due to the high fire risk.
The largest active fire in the state is the Double Creek, which grew by over 41,000 acres overnight, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, which coordinates wildfire incidents for agencies in Oregon and Washington.
The Double Creek Fire, which was caused by lightning, has burned over 147,000 acres in northeastern Oregon since igniting on Aug. 30 and is 15% contained, fire officials said Saturday.
Evacuations are in effect for the town of Imnaha north to the Snake River and south to Highway 39.
Another concern is the Cedar Creek Fire in western Oregon, burning in the National Forest east of the community of Oakridge in Lane County. The lightning-caused fire has so far burned over 51,000 acres since igniting in early August and is 12% contained, state fire officials said.
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“Saturday’s fire activity is expected to be extreme, with long-range spotting and crown runs,” the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal said in an update Saturday.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for communities in the greater Oakridge area Friday night.
“The fire remains outside Oakridge and the surrounding communities but today’s high heat will challenge firefighters as they protect homes and critical infrastructure,” the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal said Saturday.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a fire emergency Friday in response to the Cedar Creek Fire. She has invoked similar emergency acts for the Double Creek fire and the Sturgill Fire in the northeast and the Rum Creek Fire in the southwest. On Aug. 28, she declared a wildfire state of emergency to free up state resources to respond to fires.
One of the latest fires to ignite was a grass fire south of Salem, sparking evacuation orders Friday night. By Saturday morning, the Vitae Springs Fire was 100% contained, city officials said.
State officials warned residents this week that already active wildfires could worsen this weekend, or new ones could start, with increased fire risk due to high winds and high temperatures. Northwest Oregon in particular is facing extreme fire danger, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
To mitigate potential fire risks caused by damaged power lines, power shut-offs are in effect for customers in western Oregon, including some 12,000 Pacific Power customers south of Salem and some 30,000 Portland General Electric customers. The outages are expected to last through Saturday.
All Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands are also in extreme fire danger, the agency said Friday, while urging people to avoid any activity that could create sparks.
“The next couple of days are critical,” the department said.