Firefighters protect homes as SE Oregon blazes grow

Firefighters protect homes as SE Oregon blazes grow
The smoke column from the Miller Homestead fire. (Photo courtesy Kelly Everhart/Inciweb)

FRENCHGLEN, Ore. - Firefighters scrambled by ground and air to protect two home threatened by the Miller Homestead fire on Monday as gusty and erratic winds pushed the blaze across more than 18 square miles of southeastern Oregon rangeland.

High temperatures and tinder-dry vegetation combined with wind to triple the size of the burned area Monday.

When two homes came under threat from the fire, firefighters from the Burns Interagency Fire Zone moved in to protect the homes with the help of an air tanker out of Lakeview.

The fire was considered 10 percent contained at the end of the day Monday.

The Miller Homestead is one of three large fires burning in Oregon.

The Longdraw fire to the east jumped Highway 95 and disrupted traffic. That blaze has burned over 40 square miles.

Strong winds, low humidity and temperatures topping 100 degrees are expected to keep the fire growing in the coming days.

A co-owner of the 12-Mile Ranch west of Basque Station Told the agricultural publication capital press that a dozen of her cattle had been killed, and others would be put down because of burns and smoke inhalation.

To the north of both fires in the John Day area, crews had the Steward Ditch II fire 75 percent contained as of Tuesday morning.

All three fires started from lightning strikes, according to fire managers.

Ten people from a contract fire crew en route to help fight fires in Eastern Oregon were hurt when their van collided with an oncoming semi truck early Tuesday morning.