Fires burn throughout the state of Oregon

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The extremely hot and dry conditions continue to contribute to 17 wildfires throughout the states of Oregon and Washington.

Firefighters at the Corner Creek fire in Central Oregon, July 3, 2015 (InciWeb)

The Corner Creek Fire has now consumed more than 26,400 acres on the west side of the South Fork John Day River. It’s about 15% contained as of Monday, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

The Forestry Department says the Corner Creek fire in the Ochoco National Forest has generally stayed within control lines to the east, south and southwest. And crews late Sunday were able to complete a burnout operation on the west side.

The northern edge of the blaze is burning in the Black Canyon Wilderness, and plans for containing that section are being developed. It has destroyed one hunting cabin.

Also about 15% contained is the Niagara Fire, which has burned about 70 acres on state forest lands not far from the Big Cliff Dam along Highway 22.

The Bunker Hill Complex Fire, caused by lightning, has burned nearly 400 acres and is 90% contained, officials said. It’s burning on national forest lands about 30 miles southeast of Oakridge.

Lightning also caused both the Dennis Creek Fire and the Jones Canyon Fire.

The Dennis Creek Fire is about 15 miles east of Union. That fire is uncontained and has already consumed nearly 200 acres of national forest lands. The Jones Canyon Fire, on lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management, is about 75% contained 12 miles northeast of Monument. About 840 acres have burned.

The Radar Fire, caused by people, is uncontained about 4 miles west of Burns. About 400 acres of BLM land is on fire.

About 2500 firefighters are currently battling these and other blazes.That number could quadruple by the end of the month.

Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said firefighting resources are OK at this time, but that could change as the fire season continues.

The concern is whether officials can get the manpower when they need it.

“If other regions or geographical areas have fires we may not get the resources we need,” Connolly said. “Last year in a way we were fortunate because other areas weren’t burning so we were able to bring in firefighters.”

Nick Maslen, a firefighter with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said things are only going to get worse.

“There wasn’t a recharge in the fuel moisture this year, so things are very dry,” Maslen told KOIN 6 News. Fuel, weather and topography are the drivers for fire behavior. “We got the fuel and we got the topography and the weather this year.”

In the calendar year 2015, a total of 401 fires have burned 1654 acres, the ODF said. Of those, 300 were caused by humans.

That is about double the number of fires in the same time period in an average over the past 10 years. In that time span, an average of 208 fires burned 1400 acres.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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