Central Oregon wildfire grows to 1,700 acres, prompting emergency declaration

Deschutes County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

(NEW YORK) -- A wind-driven wildfire that ignited on Tuesday in Central Oregon spread overnight to 1,700 acres and was threatening homes as residents were ordered to evacuate, officials said.

The Darlene 3 Fire burning in Deschutes County was 0% contained early Wednesday, according to the Central Oregon Fire Management Service.

The blaze started about 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Fanned by gusty winds, the blaze quickly spread through a pine forest near homes in La Pine, a small town of about 2,500 people in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, officials said.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office ordered some residents on the southeast side of La Pine to evacuate. Shelters were opened at a local high school and the La Pine Rodeo Grounds, officials said.

Lt. Jayson Janes of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office said evacuation alerts were sent to 1,100 homes and businesses.

It was not immediately clear if any structures had been damaged or destroyed.

Several campgrounds and hiking trails in the area were also closed, officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The sheriff's office posted photos and video on its Facebook page showing a large plume of smoke emerging from a forest behind a group of homes and a firefighting air tanker dropping fire-suppression retardant on the flames.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act after determining the fire posed a threat to life and property and exceeded the resources of the local fire agencies. The act allows the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment throughout the state to assist local fire crews in battling the fire.

Oregon State Fire Marshall Mariana Ruiz-Temple said gusty winds and hot weather caused the fire to quickly spread.

"The Emergency Conflagration Act allows us to send the full power of the Oregon fire service to protect life and property," Ruiz-Temple said in a news release. "As we enter the hot and dry summer months, I am asking Oregonians to do everything they can to prevent wildfires."

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 11:55AM by Bill Hutchinson, ABC News Permalink