- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A fire burning in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation exploded to more than 50 square miles Friday, leading a resort and neighborhood to evacuate as strong winds pushed the flames through drought-dry grassland.

Authorities told people at the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Wolf Point subdivision to leave, but structures there were not immediately threatened. Authorities said they ordered evacuations because it would be tough for people to make a quick getaway if afternoon winds expected to reach 30 mph move the flames closer.

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort spokesman Raul Ainardi said everyone evacuated before noon Friday except 15 or so workers considered essential personnel. He said the resort had about 400 guests the night before.

He said the fire was still about 4 miles from the hotel, and there was light smoke in the air.

Sparks from a passing vehicle ignited the fire two days ago. It has destroyed three structures, including a mobile home, and forced two lengthy closures of Highway 26. About 350 personnel were fighting it in largely remote terrain.

The fire has reached the Lower Deschutes River between Warm Springs and Mecca Flat, but has not crossed it. Helicopters may be using the river as a place to scoop water.

An evacuation center is set up at the Warm Springs Community Center, and the fire threat led to the closure of tribal offices and a call for water conservation.

In eastern Oregon, a lightning-caused fire burning south of Baker City moved west toward Black Mountain, where there are several summer homes. People in that area, along with Denny Creek to the south, were asked to evacuate immediately.

Damon Simmons, spokesman for the firefighting team, told the Baker City Herald that an unknown number of structures in the Stices Gulch neighborhood burned Thursday.

It has charred 20 square miles of grass, brush and timber. Authorities advised people in 125 homes to evacuate, with pre-evacuation orders issued for more than three dozen others.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Transportation expanded the closure of a highway through the southern Cascades due to a wildfire burning on the northwestern corner of Crater Lake National Park.

Highway 230 had been partially closed Thursday. Then one of the fires in the National Creek Complex fire jumped the highway, and on Friday, the entire length was closed. Travelers are being detoured through the park.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stan Hinatsu says that closure could last some time.

Ignited by lightning Aug. 3, the fires have burned through 7.5 square miles and are only 10 percent contained.

People in vacation homes and campgrounds around Diamond Lake have been warned to be ready to evacuate.

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