Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked the state’s Emergency Conflagration Act Thursday evening as the Stouts Creek Wildfire encroached on homes in Southwest Oregon.
The wildfire began Thursday afternoon and reached nearly 6,000 acres by the end of the day. The fire threatened about 50 homes 11 miles east of Canyonville in Douglas County. An additional 300 homes are at risk as hot and dry conditions are expected to fuel the blaze Friday.
“The Stouts Creek Fire has grown very quickly since beginning early Thursday and is already putting homes at risk,” said Brown in a release early morning Friday. “As temperatures rise across Oregon this week, the Stouts Creek Fire has explosively grown amid record-setting fuel conditions and extreme drought.”
The local Sheriff has told some residents in the fire’s path near Milo to evacuate.
The fire expanded so quickly that it created its own weather system Thursday evening. A massive smoke – or pyrocumulous – cloud rose from the Douglas County blaze, generating gusty winds and lightning strikes. The enormous smoke cloud was visible from the California border an hour and a half away Thursday evening.
The Emergency Conflagration Act authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist the local crews fighting the blaze. It can only be invoked if a fire posses an immediate threat to life or structures and exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local personnel and equipment, according to ORS 476.510-476.610. The act was last invoked during 2011’s wildfire season.
The Stouts Creek Wildfire is currently zero-percent contained. The cause is unknown and remains under investigation.