Brown thanks responders, calls fires ‘once in a generation event’

Wildfires

High winds spread fire, smoke, caused power outages

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Brown called the rapid spread of wildfires across the state a “once in a generation event” and urged Oregonians to use caution as the hot and dry weather continues.

“We know our losses are going to be great, but we know that Oregon is strong, and we’ll stand together,” Brown said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our firefighters, Forest Service and National Guard, we stand with you,” she said. She stressed that the priority for agencies right now is “life safety” and thanked those working to help displaced residents.

“To all the Oregonians that have been impacted by these fires, our hearts go out to you, and please know we will do everything we can to assist in recovery efforts,” Brown said.

She said events like this could become more common.

Andrew Phelps with the Office of Emergency Management urged all Oregonians to prepare to deal with smoke and fire. “We want to take this time to remind folks to stay connected to official news sources,” he said.

Doug Grafe with the Oregon Department of Forestry said the fires are historic and due to a combination of factors including dryness and high wind.

“You have a supreme alignment for destructive fires,” Grafe said.

Grafe said Thursday is the turning point to “go on the offensive” because of changing weather patterns.

A State of Emergency was declared for Marion County and Oregon’s Emergency Conflagration Act was invoked by the governor as two wildfires ripped through the Santiam Canyon area of the county on Tuesday. Those wildfires prompted evacuation orders — which are getting more urgent by the hour.

In Clackamas County, a fire is roaring out near South Unger Road and South Bauer Road. A reverse 911 was activated due to the blaze, meaning residents living in the area were told to leave their homes in the middle of the night.

Authorities issued a Level 3 “GO” evacuation notice for the Dundee Road area near Hagg Lake. The so-dubbed Stimson Mainline Fire began early Tuesday morning in the hills south of the Hagg Lake dam near Gaston.

It’s unclear if any injuries have been reported in connection with any of the current infernos.

Wildfires are also raging in California and in Washington.

As easterly winds gained a substantial amount of speed Monday afternoon, wildfire smoke spread throughout the state. The winds also quickly escalated into new wildfires that forced evacuations in multiple locations. More than 100,000 customers lost power when the winds knocked trees down.

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