1 dead, more evacuations ordered as Substation Fire grows to 50,000 acres
THE DALLES, Ore. – A fast-moving wildfire has grown to more than 50,000 acres in Wasco and Sherman counties, burning through structures and forcing people to evacuate their homes.
Deputies said they found a person dead Wednesday afternoon near a tractor that had been burned by the flames.
The Substation Fire broke out on Tuesday near The Dalles. Wind coupled with the hot, dry conditions caused the fire to quickly spread across the regional terrain of grass and shrubbery.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Sherman County Sheriff's Office issued a Level 3 (GO) evacuation for the towns of Moro and Grass valley. Wasco, which is nearby, is under a Level 2 (GET SET) evacuation.
Oregon Dept. of Transportation officials closed down a large portion of Highway 97, from Biggs Junction to Madras - where it joins Hwy 197 to the south.
Governor Kate Brown declared the fire a conflagration earlier in the day, which allows the state fire marshal to mobilize fire resources to help fight the fire.
Calmer wind conditions are allowing firefighters to better fight the fire, which is primarily burning through the Deschutes Canyon area. The Deschutes River is closed to river traffic, and crews are working to evacuate hikers and campers in the area.
Air resources - both helicopters and jets - are working to help with the fire suppression.
Lt. Damon Simmons, a spokesman for the Oregon State Fire Marshal, said the fire growth is slowing, but that could change at any moment.
"Yesterday, when we saw a big push was in the afternoon and evening. So that is still a big concern as these winds pick up,” said Lt. Simmons.
No word on what caused the fire.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter at The Dalles Middle School for those displaced by the fire.
The sheriff's office said Home at Last will take care of dogs for free and the The Dalles Riders Club can help take care of other animals.
Moro is under a Level 3 evacuation
A Level 3 evacuation was put in place for Eight Mile Road at Emerson Loop Road to Emerson Loop Road and Company Hollow Road, as well as all of Wrentham Market Road and Mason Road.
Deschutes River from Sheers Bridge to the mouth and Deschutes Park are at Level 3.
South of Gordon Ridge Rd from the Deschutes River, east to Hwy 97 and south to King Lane, South along Sayers Rd to Payne Loop is a Level 3.
Grass Valley's Level 3 has been reduced to Level 2.
Wasco is at a Level 2 notice.
North of Gordon Ridge Rd to Interstate 84 and HWY 206, east to Hwy 97 and south along Henrichs, Doumand and Lone Rock Rd, and south to Rutledge Lane, as well as the area further south between Finnegan Rd to the Deschutes River is a Level 2.
The area east of HWY 97 to Hwy 206, and south to Fairview Rd is a Level 1.