ORTLAND, Ore. – Strong wind and hot, dry conditions are making for critical fire conditions across the Pacific Northwest.
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management says there are more than 480 active fires across the state, adding that more than 2.5 million acres have been burned. Governor Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act Tuesday afternoon.
About 40 wildfires were burning in California alone, though blazes were also reported in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana. Smoke has been detected at least as far east as New Mexico.
The fires devastated some isolated communities. In Oregon, a fast-moving wildfire caused “catastrophic damage” and probably loss of life in the town of Blue River, east of Eugene, Lane County officials said. At least 80 to 100 homes burned, said County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky at an emergency commissioners meeting Tuesday.
Several fast-moving fires prompted evacuation orders in communities across Oregon and Southwest Washington overnight Monday and into Tuesday.
Below is a list of the current evacuation orders by county, as of 3:30 p.m.:
About 30 homes were destroyed in the town of Big Creek in California.
The fires came during a Labor Day weekend that trapped many outdoors enthusiasts in the back country. Helicopter pilots braved thick smoke to locate stranded people and their pets. Some 164 were choppered out of the Sierra National Forest alone.
The fires also led to power outages. California’s largest utility cut off power to more than 170,000 customers Tuesday as intense heat, dry conditions and high winds fueled historic wildfires across the Pacific Northwest.