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Disasters & Accidents

Oregon Governor: Focus Remains On Saving Lives

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Chris Lehman
/
KLCC

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said hazardous fire conditions will remain until at least Thursday. The governor spoke during a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Oregon capitol in Salem. Brown said the focus in the short term is saving lives by evacuating people in harm’s way.

“The situation is very dangerous," she said. "Wind continues to fuel these wildfires, with devastating consequences across the entire state of Oregon. Peoples’ homes, lives and land are at risk. And it’s not over.”

Brown called the combination of wind, temperatures and dry conditions a “once in a generation” sequence of events.

Two of the most significant fires in Oregon right now share a chief characteristic: They’re being pushed by strong winds from the east along river drainages. The Beachie Creek fire has caused thousands to flee in its path east of Salem. It’s burning along the North Santiam River.

Likewise, the Holiday Farm fire east of Springfield is burning along the McKenzie River.

“That continues, like everything in these drainages, to receive those 20-30 mile per hour sustained winds, that get pushed by gusts down slope towards the valley floor, bringing that smoke to the valley, threatening those homes, and causing evacuations along the way,” said Doug Grafe, chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Grafe said Tuesday afternoon that the focus continues to be on saving lives. He said he doesn’t expect firefighters to make significant progress on attacking the flames until at least Thursday.

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