Hot, dry weather encouraging western wildfires

(AP Photo/The Record Searchlight, Greg Barnette)
(AP Photo/The Record Searchlight, Greg Barnette)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Firefighters have built a partial line around a fast-growing wildfire in southern Oregon that has destroyed structures and led to dozens of evacuations, fire spokeswoman Erica Hupp said

Crews were assessing the fire near Sprague River on Monday morning. The last measurement estimated the blaze at about 4 1/2 square miles, said Hupp.

The wildfire started around 2 p.m. PDT Sunday in timber and brush and has destroyed an undetermined number of homes and structures.

Before sundown Sunday, Klamath County sheriff’s deputies evacuated more than 100 people from homes along two roads in the area.

The blaze is just one of several major fires churning through the West.

In Northern California, a wildfire has burned 6 square miles of forested land and destroyed 18 structures, CalFire officials said. Authorities believe the fire was sparked by the exhaust from a truck driven by a man delivering supplies to an illegal marijuana plot.

The fire burning in steep terrain was just 15 percent contained on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Mills Canyon Fire burning in central Washington has grown to 35 square miles.

Firefighters strengthened containment lines around the fire near Entiat (EHN’-tee-aht) on Sunday, but they’re still worried about the potential for dry lightning and wind to kick up the flames on Monday.

Three dozen homes have been evacuated and residents of another 500 houses have been told to be prepared to leave if the fire gets closer.

The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership said the wildfire near Sprague River was burning in the town’s Moccasin Hill neighborhood.

Hupp said crews were gathering more details about the types and numbers of structures burned, and crews are building fire lines.

“There’s still a lot of the fire that isn’t lined,” she said.

The weather forecast calls for dry, hot afternoons in Washington and Oregon for the next week and that is expected to increase fire activity.

“It is still actively burning,” Hupp said of the Oregon fire. “We’re going to see what the afternoon brings.”

She said that the blaze has been growing steadily because of high winds and extremely dry conditions. But fire teams were hoping that higher late-night humidity would help slow its growth.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at a community center in Sprague River, which is about 25 miles northeast of Klamath Falls.

 

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