Fire crews are working hard to contain Oregon's wildfires

Fire crews are working hard to contain Oregon's wildfires
A firefighter works on a burnout. Photo courtesy R. Barbosa.

LATEST: Governor Kitzhaber has declared a statewide state of emergency due to the imminent threat of wildfire. WILDFIRE STATUS


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Fire crews dug and burned protective strips around two houses in south-central Oregon to save them from a wildfire that was pushed out of the hills and into a valley near Lakeview by shifting winds.

The operation Wednesday included coating the houses with protective gel, said Renee Snyder, spokeswoman for the firefighting agencies.

"Everything was successful, and the homes were saved," she said.

Almost all the residents of the two houses fled — the authorities can't order people to go, "but we highly encourage it," Snyder said.

The fire, named Barry Point, is southwest of Lakeview and straddles the Oregon-California border. The fire area is about 123 square miles, or 79,000 acres, Snyder said.

Lines have been established around about a third of that, and officials said they had moved personnel and equipment to the southern side of the fire where the potential for spreading was extreme.

Western Oregon is expected to have extraordinarily hot weather the next few days, but slightly cooler and less arid conditions were expected Thursday at the Barry Point fire. That will give crews a better shot at getting lines around the fire, Snyder said.

That favorable forecast applied to another of the fires under way in Oregon to the east named Holloway.

It straddles the Oregon-Nevada border and has burned over about 680 square miles. Firefighters reported Thursday they had been able to stop it from spreading in the upper Kings River Valley in Nevada and had made good progress on the Oregon side, as well. It was about 70 percent contained.

Other significant fires in Oregon:

  • Hikers and campers near Bobby Lake in the Cascade Range and the nearby Pacific Coast Trail were warned to stay away from the area because of a new wildfire, and campers in the Waldo Lake area were put on alert. The fire was small, but the area is a popular summer recreation area. Fire agencies said they were putting more people to work on it Thursday, hoping to control it before the weather turned unfavorable. It is part of a complex of fires called Buckhead that's burning on about 270 acres in the area between Eugene and Bend.
  • Firefighters continue struggling with the difficult terrain around the Red Buttes Wilderness Area on the Oregon-California border south of Grants Pass. The containment estimate for the Fort Complex fires was about 25 percent.
  • In the southeast corner of the state, near McDermitt, Nev., fires covering about 22 square miles were reported nearly contained.
  • A fire of about 4 square miles on the Warm Springs Reservation was described in a summary as burning on "steep, rocky nearly inaccessible terrain." Firefighters said they hoped to contain it within existing roads and trails.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.