Brown Sends State Resources To Second Ne Oregon Fire

JOSEPH, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday night invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act for a second fire burning northeast Oregon’s remote Wallowa County after it grew exponentially in size on Monday.

The Sturgill Fire as of Tuesday had burned an estimated 22 square miles (57 square kilometers) west of the towns of Enterprise and Joseph near the Union County line. Some nearby trails have been closed because of it.

Also in the area, the Double Creek fire was declared a conflagration on Saturday after it began threatening homes and other structures near the community of Imnaha. Both fires were sparked by lightning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Double Creek Fire had burned over 83 square miles (215 square kilometers) as of Tuesday and was causing very unhealthy air quality levels in the region.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the town of Imnaha with lesser evacuation notices issued nearby. Some area campgrounds and trailheads are also under evacuation notices.

The governor is empowered to invoke the Emergency Conflagration Act when a fire poses a “threat to life, safety and property” beyond the capability of local firefighting agencies. State resources such as the Office of the State Fire Marshal can then respond.

Brown’s office said that an OSFM Incident Management Team had already mobilized for the Double Creek Fire and would extend to take unified command of efforts on the Sturgill Fire.

Critical fire weather conditions are expected Tuesday night through Wednesday evening in the region with continued hot, dry, breezy conditions, fire officials said.