Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency pursuant to ORS 401.165. With the declaration, the Oregon National Guard can help fight 2014 Oregon fires. The emergency declarations applies to 20 Oregon counties. As of this posting, ten or more fires burn large portions of Oregon. New fires emerge each day. Central Oregon is also fire central. In fact, Highway 26 is now closed just east of Prineville. Many open roadways in central Oregon are much more dangerous due to:
• Smoke caused reduced visibility
• Fire & Emergency vehicle traffic; and;
• Flying, sometimes burning debris
Oregon law requires motorists to travel at a speed safe for conditions existing at the time. So, drivers travelling below the posted speed limit may be breaking the law in severe weather conditions—including fire.
CENTRAL OREGON FIRES
The “Waterman” fires comprises three fires. These fires have burned about 4,500 acres a few miles north of Mitchell, is not contained and is moving south into the Ochoco National Forest. U.S. 26 is now closed at Ochoco Summit. These fires were also started by lightning and are expanding with high winds and temperatures.
Along the Deschutes River the Shaniko burns close homes and other structures. So far over 12,000 acres have burned. And, 20 miles north of Sisters, the much smaller Bridge 99 continues to burn timberlands.
The “Buzzard” fire near Burns bleeding into Malheur County, is by far the largest grouping of fires burning Oregon. The fire has grown to over 230 square miles, has burned one large barn and killed wildlife so far. Lighting started the buzzard fires. On July 16, several fires connected making the Buzzard Fire the largest fire in the United States. As of this posting Highway 78 as are all access roads to the Warm Springs Reservoir. As Eastern Oregon winds pick up, the Buzzard fires grow while air tankers & industrial helicopters drop water and bull dozers dig pits. The fire is currently about 18% contained.