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State of emergency declared as fires sweep across Oregon

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency for Oregon on Thursday, July 17 as a result of a series of large wildfires raging across the state.

The executive order permits the mobilization of the Oregon National Guard to assist in suppression efforts with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Fire Marshall. The hot and dry conditions have led to new fires emerging almost daily, stretching crews and equipment.

Locally, the Moccasin Fire near Sprague River last week claimed 17 homes and an additional 16 structures, with one injury and over 100 residences threatened. The fire grew as large as 2,900 acres until fire crews were successfully able to contain it and begin mop up duties.  An evacuation shelter was established by the Red Cross at the Sprague Community Center, now closed, though level 1 evacuation status remained in effect for subdivisions near the fire. As other fires emerged, crews and equipment were diverted to other higher priority locations. The estimated cost of the Moccasin Hill Fire is $3 million dollars, with the cause of the fire still under investigation.

Gov. Kitzhaber can declare an emergency in accordance with ORS 401.165, which permits the Oregon governor to mobilize additional resources if determined that wildfires are a threat to life, safety and property exceeding the firefighting capabilities available locally.

Due to the extreme fire dangers, public land use restrictions were implemented to help prevent further fires from spreading. See the related article in this edition for more details.

Washington’s governor has also declared a state of emergency related to wildfires in 20 counties.

To report a fire call 9-1-1. For current fire information contact the Lakeview Interagency Fire Center at 541-947-6315 or visit www.scofmp.org/lifc.shtml.

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