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Six Large Fires Now Burn In Oregon, Stretching Resources

KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- Authorities managing the Golden Fire in Klamath County said late Monday the fire has destroyed at least 43 homes and 43 outbuildings. More than 300 homes are affected by evacuation orders and warnings. A Red Cross shelter in the small town of Bonanza served 56 people Saturday night and 31 on Sunday. 

The Golden Fire is a top priority for state resources and FEMA authorized federal funds to be used in the firefight, due to the risk of disaster. It began Saturday, about 25 miles east of Klamath Falls, and is estimated to have burned 2,052 acres and is 9% contained, as of Tuesday morning.

In the Willamette National Forest, about 27 miles southeast of Eugene, the Bedrock Fire (pictured) has burned 4,488 acres, as of Tuesday morning and is 0% contained. Northwest Incident Management Team 13 assumes management of the fire Tuesday morning.

And, in southwest Oregon, the Flat Fire is estimated at 22,697 acres and about 3% contained. Around 1,500 personnel remain on the Flat Fire, which started 10 days ago near the town of Agness, in Curry County. 

There are seven large fires now burning in the Pacific Northwest, with six in Oregon. "One more human-caused large fire on our landscape will be pulling critical resources away from other fires," says Carol Connolly, with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, "There’s no other way to put it."

She says the region is now at Fire Preparedness Level Three, which means crews from elsewhere in the country are coming to help. "We need to augment our northwest capacity to fill the resource requests for all the incidents," she tells KBND News. "All of our hotshot crews that we have here in the northwest are either assigned or on mandatory days off. I believe right now we have a couple coming in from outside the region and we have three of our own crews that are either traveling or on days off, or being reassigned. So the movement, they are moving around." She says there are enough air tankers, but not task force leaders. "For us right now, it’s not like we’re out of things, it’s just that we have to strategically move and reassign within our incidents." 

Connolly says, "Human or undetermined, Oregon’s had 463 fires for just about 50,000 acres." That's a big increase from last year at this time, when there were just 267. It's also three times more than the natural starts Oregon has seen this year, "Lightning [has caused] 153 fires for about 6,900 acres."


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