Denver7 | Weather


Wind-driven wildfire spreads outside a central Oregon community and prompts evacuations

Oregon Wildfires
Posted at 11:07 AM, Jun 26, 2024

LA PINE, Ore. (AP) — A wind-driven wildfire spread Wednesday outside a central Oregon community, where residents of numerous homes and businesses were urged to evacuate, authorities said.

The Darlene 3 Fire grew to nearly 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) near the community of La Pine and was 30% contained, Central Oregon Fire Information posted on the social media site X.

Evacuation alerts were sent to 1,100 homes and businesses, said Lt. Jayson Janes of the Deschutes County Sherriff's Office. He said about 50-60 people sought refuge at a local high school serving as an evacuation center.

It was not known whether any structures had burned.

Jodi Kerr was packing up her home decor and gifts store in La Pine so she could evacuate.

“It’s part of the risk of living in an area like this. It’s beautiful, but it’s wild,” said Kerr, the owner of Meandering Maker Mercantile.

She said it’s hard to think about the people who’ve spent years building businesses and then be concerned about losing it all overnight.

The fire started Tuesday about a mile (1.6 kilometers) south of La Pine. It's cause was under investigation.

Central Oregon Fire Management Service firefighters used dozers, or heavy construction equipment adapted to battle wildfires, to establish control lines around the blaze. Aircraft dropped fire retardant to slow the flames.

La Pine High School was serving as a temporary evacuation point while La Pine Rodeo Grounds was hosting a livestock and small animal shelter.

TV station KTVZ reported that several U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and trails had been evacuated and closed.

La Pine is about 192 miles (309 kilometers) south of Portland.

It is among the latest dangerous U.S. wildfires. In New Mexico, thousands of people fled their homes last week as two fast-moving wildfires approached their village. Search and rescue crews this week have cleared more properties in the areas of Ruidoso, the mountain community that was hardest hit by the flames.

In the central area of California, a new group of three large wildfires and several smaller ones covered nearly 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) in rural eastern Fresno County. The Fresno June Lightning Complex was ignited as remnants of tropical system Alberto flowed across the state Tuesday. The complex was 15% contained early Wednesday.

In Southern California, evacuation orders for about 2,500 San Diego residents were lifted after firefighters stopped a fire's spread through a nature preserve near Torrey Pines State Beach on Tuesday. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

In rural Northern California, a fire that threatened the community of Palermo late Monday lost steam as weather improved the next morning, and residents were allowed to return home. The Apache Fire destroyed two structures in its initial surge over about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers).

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | June 26, 8am