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Oregon Becomes No. 1 Wildfire Fighting Priority

<p>Crews work to mop up hot spots on the Stouts Fire in Southwestern Oregon.</p>

Douglas Forest Protective Association


Crews work to mop up hot spots on the Stouts Fire in Southwestern Oregon.

As wildfires continue to spread, officials say the state's resources are stretched thin. Oregon is the No. 1 national priority, said Koshare Eagle with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

"We have a limited number of resources, and all of the resources are 100 percent engaged and committed on these incidents," said Eagle. "We don't have additional planes and helicopters to call in."

The Cornet and Windy Ridge fires south of Baker City have lost resources as crews move to higher priority blazes: the El Dorado Fire southeast of Unity in Baker County and Canyon Creek Complex near Canyon City in Grant County.

For the Canyon Creek Complex, Gov. Kate Brown has announced a conflagration declaration, which authorizes the state fire marshal to mobilize other firefighters and equipment to assist local resources.

"Preventing additional fires is of the utmost importance and all Oregonians need to be aware of regulations prohibiting camp fire and power-driven equipment," said Brown in a statement. "This is the time for every Oregonian to be tuned in to fire prevention and fire awareness."

Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 26 were both closed Friday. I-84 was reopened later in the evening, according to the Oregon State Police.

The interstate was also closed for several hours Thursday as some residents were forced to immediately evacuate. High winds, low humidity and hot temperatures in recent days contributed to the fires' rapid growth.

That growth has been problematic for fire crews across the state, who have few extra resources to tap.

"Nationally, there are no more trained fire crews in the system that are shown available," said Eagle. "That's true of air tankers and engines as well."

Editor's note: The Canyon Creek Complex is near Canyon City in Grant County.

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OPB Staff