Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

A wildfire in central Oregon swelled to more than 250 acres in less than three hours Tuesday afternoon and evening, triggering evacuations and leaving thousands without power.

The wildfire, dubbed the Darlene 3 Fire, grew quickly on the outskirts of La Pine in Deschutes County, requiring the response of regional firefighters. It was still spreading Tuesday night, according to Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch.

Firefighters responded to the blaze around 12:45 p.m., the dispatch agency said, and officials estimated that it covered 3 to 5 acres. An hour later, the fire had already tripled in size. It swelled to more than 250 acres by Tuesday night and was 0% contained shortly before 7:30 p.m.

Residents in some areas of Deschutes County were told to evacuate immediately or risk public safety personnel’s being unable to help them. People in other, nearby areas were told to prepare to evacuate.

Photos and videos posted to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page showed black smoke burning behind several properties.

The U.S. Forest Service shut down and evacuated nearby campgrounds and trails in Deschutes National Forest.

A shelter for evacuees was set up at La Pine High School, and a shelter for livestock and pets was established at the La Pine Rodeo Grounds.

Gov. Tina Kotek invoked Oregon’s Emergency Conflagration Act — a law that allows the state fire marshal to invoke the full power of the Oregon fire service to protect life and property.

Midstate Electric Cooperative — an electric utility company — told some customers it would most likely enact a public safety shutoff in the area as a result of the fires.

More than 2,000 customers are without power, according to the company.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire’s name, Darlene 3, is a sign of the area’s history with wildfires, according to NBC affiliate KTVZ of Bend. In 2021, the Darlene Fire burned nearly 700 acres and destroyed two homes, the station reported.

La Pine is a rural city about 30 miles southwest of Bend. Its population is around 2,500. The population of the greater La Pine area is just under 20,000. It is the “youngest” city in Oregon, incorporated in 2006, according to La Pine’s website.

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#Growing #wildfire #central #Oregon #chars #acres #prompts #evacuations

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