PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Firefighters are making progress against the wildfire burning near Dufur.
The Wrentham Market Fire is still 10,000 acres large as of Thursday morning, but the containment level is now up to 38%, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal. New resources and two crews of 20-person hand crews from the Bureau of Land Management are scheduled to arrive, aiding in the battle against the blaze.
According to the OSFM, the fire’s limited growth is due, in part, to the efforts of local fire crews and ranchers — some of which sprung into action Tuesday to save a beloved old schoolhouse.
The wind had blown in the director of the Center Ridge Schoolhouse, which is an abandoned structure popular for picture taking — a landmark for the area. Ranchers got busy when flames roared up the canyon — cutting fire lines in the fields around the schoolhouse with the big farm equipment. Regular firefighters eventually joined in the containment and the schoolhouse ultimately survived.
Unfortunately, at least one barn and one outbuilding have been destroyed by the fire. Approximately 70-100 people reside in the Level 3 evacuation area currently in place.
To further bolster the firefighting efforts, Oregon Governor Kate Brown enacted an Emergency Conflagration Act on Wednesday. This allows for the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and necessary equipment from other areas to supplement their efforts.
“With high temperatures and weather conditions helping fires grow quickly, I have invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to make more state resources available to the fire crews on the front lines in Wasco County at the Wrentham Market Fire,” Governor Brown said. “I want to reiterate that preventing wildfires is critical this year, especially as we already have entered an early season with several fires burning across the state. I’m asking all Oregonians to be cautious, be safe, and to honor all burn bans.”
According to the governor’s office, the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Red Incident Management Team has been mobilized, as well as three structural task forces Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties. Oregon State Police troopers with The Dalles station have also been on the scene to assist.
Earlier in the day, Brown announced she had declared a state of emergency due to wildfire danger.
Over the past week, a historic heatwave rolled through the Pacific Northwest, bringing high temperatures and worsening already dry conditions. Although we’ve now passed the threshold of three-digit temperature days, there is still no rain in the extended forecast. The governor says much of the state is in high or extreme fire danger with red flag warnings in effect.
A total of 19 counties are already in declared drought emergencies. The governor said this extreme heat is just adding to the already challenging landscape firefighters will have to face.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this developing story.