Oregon Fire quadruples in size; Governor declares emergency
By ANDREW SELSKY, Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A wildfire in remote southwest Oregon nearly quadrupled in size overnight Saturday, forcing evacuations and prompting the governor to invoke an emergency act that allows the provost state fires to take command of suppression efforts.
The Rum Creek Fire, which covered about 1,200 acres (485 hectares) on Friday, has grown to 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares), Governor Kate Brown’s office said Saturday.
Authorities also ordered evacuations as a wildfire developed across rugged terrain in western Idaho. The Valley County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook on Saturday that the evacuation readiness for some neighborhoods in the rural area “has been changed to ‘GO’ status and we are initiating an immediate evacuation of the area.”
Planes scooped up water from nearby Cascade Lake and dumped it on the fire, which had grown to 10,000 acres (4,046 hectares). Boaters have been warned to stay clear of the plane’s path.
In Oregon, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office ordered the evacuation of several unincorporated communities along the Rogue River, which is popular among rafters. Sections of the river were closed for recreation by federal officials due to the fire.
“The Rum Creek Fire grew rapidly overnight, requiring additional resources to fight the fire and support the state’s response,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s a good reminder that conditions can change quickly and fire knows no bounds.”
Brown’s statement paved the way for the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local firefighters and to support a coordinated response.
The unincorporated community of Galicia was among those evacuated. The Grants Pass County Fairgrounds has been designated as an evacuation shelter, with space for people, their pets and livestock.
The fire was started by lightning on August 17 and killed 25-year-old firefighter Logan Taylor after he was struck by a tree the next day. Brown ordered all flags at public institutions in Oregon to be flown at half-mast Monday in honor of Taylor, with his memorial service to be held the same day.
“He will be remembered for his bravery, his courage and his commitment to protecting the people of Oregon from wildfires,” Brown said.
A wildfire near Spokane, Wash., prompted evacuations on Friday but was brought under control, emergency officials said Saturday.
The fire spanned 41 acres (17 hectares) with no burned structures, the Spokane County Fire District said on Facebook.
And in northern California, a wildfire that broke out in Nevada County on Saturday prompted local evacuation orders, according to the Fresno Bee newspaper. The Still Fire had burned 30 acres (12 hectares) by mid-afternoon and was 0% contained, according to state fire officials.
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