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Governor calls on state troops to fight raging wildfires

COURTESY OF GERT ZOUTENDIJK/STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE - Firefighters battle the west side of the Canyon Creek Complex fire in Grant County.Gov. Kate Brown has activated Oregon National Guard troops to help fight the nearly two dozen wildfires burning across the state.

Brown made the decision while touring hard-hit Grant County, where the Canyon Creek Complex fire has burned about 48,201 acres in the Malheur National Forest just south of John Day. Brown was touring the area to see the damage from one of the state’s largest wildfires.

The call-up means about 125 soldiers will begin training this week at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem to battle the fires beginning next week. The National Guard has already dedicated resources to fighting wildfires, with four Blackhawk helicopters and support personnel assisting in the effort.

COURTESY OF LORI IVERSON/USFWS - Firefighters spray water along Canyon Creek Road near the southern end of the wildfire.“Oregon National Guard members will join first responders who are working tirelessly to battle these unpredictable wildfires,” Brown said. “We have weeks of fire season left, and it is incumbent upon us to make sure that above all else, we continue to protect the public’s safety.”

Nearly 700 firefighters are battling in the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

The largest wildfires in the state are the Cornet-Windy Ridge fire in Northeast Oregon, burning about 103,000 acres; the County Line fire near Warm Springs, burning nearly 63,000 acres; and the Bendire Complex fire near Vale, burning about 45,000 acres.

The north entrance road to Crater Lake National Park is still closed between State Highway 138 at the park’s north boundary and the Crater Lake west rim drive at north junction because of the National Creek Complex wildfire that has burned about 6,500 acres in the area.

COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS - About 70 American Red Cross volunteers are helping in a half-dozen communities hard-hit by wildfires. The Red Cross is providing shelter and financial assistance to buy necessities for people forced from their homes by the fires.

Red Cross offers aid

An American Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Mt. Vernon Community Center. The Red Cross is providing financial and relief services for displaced residents.

More than 70 Red Cross volunteers are helping with relief efforts in more than a half-dozen cities across Oregon, where wildfires have ravaged a total of 300,000 acres. Volunteers are providing financial assistance to help with immediate needs like clothing, food and basic necessities. They also are helping with relief supplies to support clean-up efforts, including shovels, rakes, work gloves, lanterns and coolers.

So far, the Red Cross has delivered more than 3,000 meals and snacks served at shelters and community meetings and reached more than 2,000 people with wildfire preparedness and safety information.

To help the Red Cross effort, donate at www.redcross.org.

COURTESY OF THE USFS - A series of photos shows a tanker dropping flame retardant chemicals on the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

Parks prohibits camp fires

Even as Brown was activating state Guard soldiers to fight the fires, the state’s Parks and Recreation Department announced that all campfires would be prohibited in state parks and other properties owned and managed by the department starting Wednesday, Aug. 19. The ban includes designated fire pits, tiki torches and candles. It also extends to fires on coastal beaches.

(Image is Clickable Link) COURTESY OF NWICC - A Northwest Interagency Coordination Center map shows wildfires burning across the state.The ban will remain in effect for at least a week and will be re-evaluated based on fire status, weather and guidance from state and local fire officials.

“Our goal is to avoid any accidental fires on OPRD property that would further tax limited firefighting resources,” said MG Devereux, parks and recreation department deputy director. “Most communities have sent local firefighters and equipment to help with wildfires throughout the state. An unintentional fire in a state park would add an unnecessary burden to firefighting efforts.”

For more information, call 1-800-551-6949; online at www.oregonstateparks.org.

Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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