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Central Oregon wildfire grows to 3,620 acres, prompting new evacuations


Central Oregon wildfire grows to 3,620 acres, prompting new evacuations

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(BEND, Ore.) — A wind-driven wildfire threatening homes and causing evacuations in Central Oregon has grown to more than 3,614 acres, officials said Thursday.

The Darlene 3 Fire, which started around 2 p.m. Tuesday in Deschutes County, remained 30% contained Thursday for the second consecutive day. Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, an additional 1,200 acres had burned, according to the Central Oregon Fire Management Service.

Fanned by gusty winds, the blaze quickly spread through a pine forest near homes on the south side of La Pine, a small town of about 2,500 people in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, officials said. On Wednesday, fire officials said a new blaze broke out on the east side of La Pine, threatening homes in several neighborhoods and triggering more evacuation ordered from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said shelters were opened at a local high school and the La Pine Rodeo Grounds.

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.”

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