- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - High winds forecast for an area of eastern Oregon where a wildfire has destroyed three dozen homes have prompted more evacuation orders, officials said Thursday.

Red flag warnings concerning winds that could cause rapid spread of wildfires were posted across central Oregon and into eastern Washington, as the forecast called for a dry cold front with winds gusting to 40 mph from the Cascade crest to the east.

Wind and fire potential were expected to decrease across most of the region during the weekend.

After burning for a week, the fire 150 miles east of Portland was 10 percent contained at 85 square miles, with no date in sight for full containment. Much of the burning has been in Malheur National Forest.

Authorities dispatched more than 250 new people to fight the blaze, increasing personnel to more than 900.

With so many blazes burning across the West, the fire slid from the top of the national wildfire priorities list.

Still, more people have been ordered to evacuate and a community meeting was scheduled at Grant Union High School.

Lightning started the fire Aug. 12 and strong winds pushed it up a canyon south of John Day in a run that took out 36 houses. No Oregon wildfire since the Great Depression has destroyed more homes.

With another 10 major wildfires raging in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has deployed 125 National Guard troops to help. They are training in Salem before being sent to fire lines late next week.

Elsewhere, the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park and state Highway 230 remained closed as firefighters battled a fire in the northwest corner of the park and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The fire grew to more than 12 square miles and was 10 percent contained.

Oregon’s biggest wildfire south of Baker City was 70 percent contained at 162 square miles of timber and grass.


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