Crews make 'excellent progress' on fire near Madras

Crews make 'excellent progress' on fire near Madras »Play Video
One of the homes firefighters saved from the fire burning near Madras (Photo courtesy Oregon State Fire Marshal)

MADRAS, Ore. - Firefighters said they made "excellent progress" on Tuesday against a fire that burned more than 1,300 acres near Madras, a state fire marshal's office spokesman said.

The Elk Fire was reported Monday afternoon. Pushed by windy conditions, it burned quickly in light, brushy fuel onto U.S. Bureau of Land Management property.

Crews moved into position overnight to protect about two dozen homes from the flames.

By Tuesday afternoon, fire crews said the threat to homes had diminished.

A state fire marshal's spokesman, Justin de Ruyter, said about 120 firefighters were on the scene Tuesday, with fire engines guarding the homes at risk.

The governor declared the fire a "conflagration," meaning fire crews could be called in from around the state.

Firefighters from Clackamas County were among those who traveled to Central Oregon.

"Typical deployment ranges from 72 to 96 hours" said Chief Gary McQueen "The resources needed to help fight this fire were very specific, we are proud to be able to offer our assistance to the community through the Conflagration Act". 

Greg McCool estimated damages at $100,000 as the flames ate through his fields and a pump house, according to KTVZ-TV. But he said he's grateful for the response to the blaze.

"It's amazing how fast they got in there and took care of it," he said.

Conditions in central Oregon's high desert are reported to be very dry. Red flag fire warnings were recently posted throughout the Northwest region.