Salt Creek Fire 7% contained
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Salt Creek Fire 7% contained

Salt Creek Fire 7% contained

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Here’s the latest on wildfires and evacuations in Oregon.

Fast-moving Larch Creek Fire Causes Evacuations Near Dufur

A fast-moving wildfire near Dufur forced residents to evacuate after burning 7,000 acres of grass and timber in central Oregon.

The Larch Creek Fire broke out 5 miles southwest of Dufur, closest to Friend, burning west of Highway 97.

The fire prompted a Level 3 “go now” evacuation in the Tygh Valley area west of White River Falls State Park. A Level 1 “get ready” evacuation was set Wednesday morning from Elliott Road east to Kingsley Road and north to Friend Road. An evacuation map can be found here.

The shelter at Maupin High School has been made available to all evacuees.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said firefighters have already been tapped and will continue to respond into the night.

“The fire is currently at a moderate to high level of spread,” ODF said late Tuesday. No buildings have burned so far, officials said.

“Due to high temperatures, low humidity and difficult terrain, firefighting operations require a variety of attack methods, prioritizing safety while protecting lives and structures,” ODF said. “Increased winds play a significant role in fire behavior.”

Governor Kotek invoked the Emergency Fire Act over the larch fire

In response to the Larch Creek Fire, Gov. Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Firefighting Act Tuesday evening, a news release said.

The resources needed to protect life and property were deemed beyond local capabilities. Wasco County Commissioners requested assistance with structural safety and fire protection.

“Oregonians across the state have been dealing with unusually high temperatures over the past week, which has increased the threat of wildfires,” Kotek said. “I have approved an emergency burn to allow additional resources to battle the Larch Creek Fire.”

Salt Creek Fire has spread to 3,815 acres in southern Oregon

The Salt Creek Fire in southern Oregon has grown to 3,815 acres. Fire containment has increased to 7%.

An infrared flight Tuesday mapped the fire and gave firefighters significant areas of growth to focus on. By Wednesday morning, 80% of the fire had a line around it.

The fire was located 10 miles east of Eagle Point and was first reported Sunday afternoon.

Due to the vegetation and terrain, the fire was expected to spread along steep terrain and ravines.

Dehydration from the Oregon heat wave and dangerous trees were the primary threats to firefighter safety. No injuries were reported.

“Crews have made great progress with the work of building and improving the line,” said IMT 1 Incident Commander Joe Hessel. “The local initial assault crews gave the team a great start. Our goal now is to complete the work as safely as possible.”

A level one “be prepared” evacuation warning was issued Sunday for the area around Lakecreek, an unincorporated community about 20 miles east of Medford.

Salt Creek Road and Wasson Canyon Road remained closed at Highway 140, and Double Day Road was closed at Butte Falls Highway. Highway 140 and Butte Falls Highway remained open.

Central Oregon’s McCaffery Fire 100% contained at 458 acres

The local Type 4 incident commander took command Tuesday evening. Some resources remained on scene to ensure the fire remained within its range.

The Deschutes and Crook County Sheriff’s Offices continue to issue Level 1 “Be Prepared” evacuations in areas near the fire.

Willamette National Forest lowers fire danger level to ‘moderate’

As high temperatures caused by a heat wave finally begin to subside, though they are still about 15 degrees above average in the Willamette Valley, the Willamette National Forest has lowered its fire danger level from “high” to “moderate.”

There were no restrictions on public use. Campfires should be built in an existing spot, with a shovel and water nearby, officials said.

Campfire bans were in effect in other parts of the state, including southwestern and central Oregon. Officials advised checking local regulations before heading out.

Forest officials warn everyone to be vigilant when relaxing, especially around a campfire.

Small Sulfur Fire Contained in Southern Oregon

The 2-acre Sulfur Fire that broke out Monday evening in southern Oregon southwest of Medford has been brought under control by firefighters.

The latest grading done Tuesday did not show any smoke, according to Virginia Gibbons of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The official said patrolling and grading will continue throughout the week.

On Monday evening, U.S. Forest Service firefighters discovered the fire on a ridge south of the Beaver Sulphur Campground, according to a news release.

Firefighters responded immediately, and firefighting aircraft were called in from the Applegate fire to drop water on the new blaze.

The cause of the fire is being determined.

Shelly Fire Could Impact Air Quality in Willamette Valley

The Shelly Fire, which started July 3 about 250 miles south of Eugene in northern California, has burned 8,285 acres.

With continued hot, dry weather and access difficulties, the fire continued to spread. Given the right conditions, smoke from the large fire could impact air quality in the southern Willamette Valley.

Elliott Deins is an outdoor journalism intern at the Statesman Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]