Fire crews are working to contain a number of wildfires burning in Eastern Oregon. Much of the activity is on public lands in Malheur and Harney counties. The fires were sparked by lightning storms that passed through the area Monday.
Overnight, two of those blazes — the Crowley Creek Fire and the Stockade Fire — burned together. As of this morning, the two had scorched a total of 15,000 acres.
That number could grow as firefighters continue to grapple with strong winds. Forecasters say gusts may hit 40 miles per hour today.
“When winds hit fire like that, you just need to get out of the way,” says Mark Wilkening, public affairs officer with Bureau of Land Management’s Vale office. “You can’t really get out ahead of it because you’re just not doing much with the winds pushing it that fast and that hard.”
Wilkening says the blazes are threatening three ranching operations in the area. He says firefighters have taken precautions to try to protect some structures and outbuildings. Wilkening expects there could be as many as 300 firefighters working in the area over the next few days.