Amid progress on Dufur fire, new blazes getting attention

By AP staff (AP)
DUFUR, Ore. July 1, 2021 9:13 p.m.

Firefighters are making progress against a wildfire burning south of The Dalles, Oregon near Dufur, officials said.

The Wrentham Market Fire was still 10,000 acres large as of Thursday morning, but the containment level was up to 38%, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal. New resources were also scheduled to arrive, KOIN reported.

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Meanwhile, not far away, a fast-moving brush fire started east of The Dalles. The Sunnyside Valley Fire has forced evacuations and road closures along parts of Highway 197. The fire was first reported around 3:45 p.m. Thursday on Valley View Drive.

The fire was originally reported at 50-75 acres, but has since grown. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office issued several evacuations: Level 3, go now evacuations are in place for Valley View, Old Dufur Road to the 13th Street intersection, and Benson Road, and for the 197/5 mile intersection to 5 mile/Benson intersection. A Level 2 “Get Set” evacuation is in place for all of Lambert Street. Highway 197 is closed south of Interstate 84.

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Meanwhile, a fire broke out on Oregon’s Warms Springs Reservation Wednesday afternoon. The Rattlesnake Fire is now estimated to be 4,700 acres with 0% containment.

Fire crews were able to prevent damage to two structures as the fast-moving fire burned approximately 100 acres on the Reservation before jumping the Deschutes River moving northeast onto Prineville District BLM lands. On Thursday afternoon, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 2, get set, evacuation order for Trout Creek Campground along the Deschutes River due to the fire. People planning to float the Deschutes in that area are asked to use caution.

The Dufur fire’s limited growth is due, in part, to the efforts of fire crews and ranchers — some of whom acted quickly Tuesday to save a beloved old schoolhouse, according to the fire marshal.

The wind had blown toward the Center Ridge Schoolhouse, an abandoned structure popular for photos and an area landmark. Ranchers cut fire lines in the fields around the schoolhouse with the large farm equipment, and fire crews joined them in protecting it officials said.

At least one barn and one outbuilding have been destroyed by the fire. Approximately 70-100 people live in the current mandatory evacuation area.

In northeast Oregon and southeast Washington, forestry officials said fire crews were responding to reports of smoke and fire after thunderstorms Tuesday evening. Officials said on Thursday that 23 fires have been confirmed in those areas.

OPB staff contributed to this report.

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