CULVER, OR -- Fire season has come to Central Oregon and crews have been spread thin responding to 38 incidents after 600 lightning strikes recorded over Wednesday night.
The Graham Fire, currently at 2,000 acres, is burning 7 miles west of Cove Palisades Park. Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins says the fire has devastated the Three Rivers Subdivision, with the loss of two homes, and several outbuildings. "We've lost several homes already and the fire's moving pretty fast. The wind's blowing from the west to the east. We've evacuated people who are to the west of Lakeview Drive, and we have two task forces out here. So, we're pretty busy trying to get a handle on this."
Governor Brown has declared the fire a conflagration, which has prompted FEMA to send personnel to help fight it. A structural protection task force and wildland engines have also responded.
Adkins says the area is still under Evacuation Level Three status, which means "GO NOW" and the only people being allowed in for brief times are residents who have emergent needs for medicines.
Fire crews are currently holding a line, Adkins says they're worried about the winds that are expected this afternoon, and the rising temperatures. The Sheriff says the area is filled with smoke and is very dangerous. He understands why residents would want to return to their homes, but he's asking that they take the level three "GO NOW" evacuation seriously. "I suggest that everybody just stay out of here and let these firefighters do their job."
Another large fire crews fought Thursday is the Boxcar Fire, southeast of Maupin, at an estimated 7,000 acres, burning in grass and brush on unprotected private lands and BLM. A Type 3 Incident Management team has assigned numerous engines, one heavy air tanker, a 20 person crew, 3 helicopters and 4 single engine air tankers to contain it.