The County Line 2 fire was sparked from a passing vehicle. U.S. Highway 26 remained closed Friday because of the fire.
Kah-Nee-Ta General Manager Raul Ainardi said about 400 guests evacuated as the fire continued to move toward it, starting at about 10 a.m. Some Warm Springs subdivisions were also evacuated. A skeleton crew remains at the site.
“Our guests either departed to their next destination, or back to their homes,” Ainardi said. “All of our staff has been sent home, except for a core group. We have about 15 people who will be staying on property.”
Jayson Smith/Spilyay Tymoo
“It does have a significant impact,” said Ainardi. “It’s our peak season and even though the resort may open in a few days, it takes people a week or two to start coming back and really enjoying the facility.”
The Central Oregon Conflagration Task Force was called up late Thursday so more firefighters could be used to help protect structures around Warm Springs.
Rich Hoover, a spokesman with the Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office, said the evacuation was ordered because the weather forecast Friday afternoon calls for strong winds that could create dangerous conditions.
“It’s extremely erratic fire behavior, so we want to make sure we can get those people out before it becomes too difficult,” Hoover said.
According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, the fire had reached the Lower Deschutes River between Warm Springs and Mecca Flat by Friday morning, but hadn’t jumped the river.
An evacuation center is set up at the Warm Springs Community Center, and the fire threat led to the closure of tribal offices and a call for water conservation.
In Eastern Oregon a few miles south of Baker City, the Windy Ridge fire grew to about 31 square miles Friday. Also near Baker City, the Cornet fire has burned 20 square miles of grass, brush and timber. The two blazes are about three miles apart.
The Baker City Herald reported Friday that an unknown number of structures burned in the Stices Gulch area.
High winds, low humidity and afternoon thunderstorms could fuel the fires further Friday afternoon, according to the Bureau of Land Management in Vale.
“You couldn’t ask for a worse day to fight fire,” said Jon Dentinger, an incident commander at the Windy Ridge Fire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.