Oregon governor invokes emergency declaration as fires rage
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Saturday invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act allowing state officials to mobilize additional firefighters to battle a combination of blazes in a southwestern part of the state.
Brown invoked the emergency declaration in response to the Garner Complex of 13 fires in Jackson and Josephine counties where some homeowners are under various levels of evacuation orders.
“With weather conditions helping these fires grow quickly, I have invoked an emergency declaration to make more state resources available to the fire crews on the front lines,” Brown said in a statement.
The order allows municipal fire departments in the state to travel to the area and help protect some of the 393 homes currently being threatened.
“They’re on their way,” fire spokesman Don Hickman said Saturday. “They should be here in the morning.”
Some residents in the area have been told to evacuate immediately, but the exact number is unclear.
The 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) complex of fires is burning in grass, brush and timber, much of it in rugged areas. Hickman said firefighters on Saturday faced low humidity, winds around 20 mph (32 kph) and temperatures in the 90s.
“It’s going to be a tough day, just like yesterday,” he said.
Nearly 1,400 firefighters are fighting the fires and more are expected. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, but one has returned to the fire line, Hickman said.
Nineteen aircraft, mostly helicopters, are assigned to the blaze, but several jet retardant bombers have also been taking part.
The fires started on July 15 when a lightning storm moved through the area. The fires were about 8 percent contained Saturday.