Larch Creek Fire, south of The Dalles, is growing fast, forcing evacuations

By Julia Boboc (OPB)
July 10, 2024 2 p.m. Updated: July 11, 2024 4:02 p.m.

Officials again upgraded some of the evacuation orders Thursday for a fast-growing wildfire that started Tuesday near Friend, Oregon.

The Larch Creek Fire, south of The Dalles, was at 100 acres Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday night it had grown to nearly 11,000 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.


The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office has issued a Level 3 “Go Now!” evacuation order from Friend Road, East to Elliott Road and Highway 197, South to Badger Creek Road, West to McCorkle Grade Road.

Residents of at least 41 homes were advised to evacuate. Several other areas are under Level 2 and Level 1 evacuation orders.

Check the latest evacuation maps from the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office

The area was under a Red Flag Warning for critical fire weather on Tuesday afternoon.

Related: How to prepare for wildfire smoke

Gert Zoutendijk, the spokesperson for the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Incident Management Team, said “tremendous” 35 mph winds contributed to the fire’s drastic growth. The location of the fire, near steep canyons of Tygh Valley, has also made accessing the fire a challenge.


“The heat wave that has gripped Oregon significantly increased the fire danger across the state,” said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Travis Medema. “The continued hot, dry conditions, and gusty winds are a dangerous combination. I am asking everyone to do what they can to prevent sparking a wildfire.”

Tuesday night, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act for the fire, which allows the state fire marshal to mobilize state resources to protect life and property.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter at Maupin High School. People looking to shelter their livestock are encouraged to visit the Sherman County and Hood River fairgrounds.

A fire line around the perimeter of the blaze has boxed it in, while multiple task forces and local communities are beginning containment.

“Local fire agencies, Oregon Department of Forestry crews that are local here, local farmers did an amazing job trying to keep the fire as small as possible,” Zoutendijk said.

The fire was human-caused, but specifics are still under investigation.

Wasco County experienced a similar fire in 2018. The Substation Fire started July 17 and burned over 70,000 acres. Zoutendijk was also working the Substation Fire. He said lessons learned in that fire six years ago are helping the containment effort now.

“Here, the local farmers are a vital source of firefighting resources,” he said, adding that in 2018, firefighters “did not do well with the farmers.”

But since then, Zoutendijk said farmers have learned to use more tools that prevent fire from spreading on their land.

Now, they’re working together to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

EVACUATION UPDATES LARCH CREEK FIRE | 7:30 PM Level 3 GO NOW - From Friend Rd, East to Elliott Rd and Hwy 197, South to...

Posted by Wasco County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, July 10, 2024