Wildfires

Central Oregon wildfires growing

MAUPIN, Ore. (AP) - Wildfire season in Oregon is underway after a lightning storm sparked at least two major fires that are now burning in the central part of the state.
    
Jean Nelson-Dean, a fire spokeswoman, said Friday the smaller fire burning near Culver triggered the mandatory evacuation of about 100 homes.
    
That blaze is at about 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) and has not torched any homes

The Graham Fire

Governor Kate Brown declared the Graham Fire a conflagration, meaning the state fire marshal can mobilize firefighters and equipment to help the local fire departments. Crews from Clackamas and Washington Counties will be there Friday morning to help. 

“This is a reminder that fire season has arrived,” said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. “Please be aware of maintaining defensible space and know the fire restrictions in your area.”

The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center says firefighters on Thursday chased several new fire starts after hundreds of lightning strikes the day before.

The Boxcar Fire

The Boxcar Fire began 3 miles south of Maupin and moved on both sides of Highway 197, forcing the road to close at times. By Friday afternoon the fire was more than 23,000 acres.

This fire has 60 crew fighting, plus 7 engines, 2 dozers and a water tender.

There were no mandatory evacuations but residents east of the town are being told to be ready to go if needed.

Many people south of the Deschutes River were nervous as the fire ballooned overnight.

"Last night got pretty scary," said Nick Laflin, who lives in Tygh Valley.

Laflin's raft rental shop, Deschutes U-Boat, sits just below the rising smoke.

The Wasco County Sheriff's Office is asking drivers to watch for road closures and heavy smoke that could reduce visibility. 

The fires were started by lightning strikes from strong thunderstorms that swept the region Wednesday.

"We had a huge lightning storm, there was over 600 lightning strikes in the area," said Christy Marquez, who lives nearby. 

They are growing quickly in windy and dry conditions.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.


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