- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

BEND, Ore. (AP) - National Guard soldiers newly trained as firefighters have started arriving at fire camp in Eastern Oregon to help mop up a blaze that destroyed more than three dozen homes and burned through more than 115 square miles.

Fire spokeswoman Stefanie Gatchell said about 100 National Guard troops will be briefed Wednesday, then put to work putting out hotspots, mopping up, and rehabilitating the old fire line of the blaze, located mostly on the Malheur National Forest south of John Day. It was started by lightning two weeks ago.

The Bulletin newspaper of Bend reports about half of the troops are from Central Oregon.

Their arrival means other fire crews - in short supply around the West - can get some rest and be reassigned to other fires.

The wildfire started two weeks ago from lightning and was 42 percent contained Wednesday morning, with full containment expected Sept. 30.

A second group of about 250 Air and Army National Guard troops will finish training Sunday, Oregon Military Department spokesman Nick Choy said.

Elsewhere, firefighters have set dates they expect to contain all 120 of Oregon’s large wildfires, and unseasonable rain is forecast for Friday night through the weekend for western Oregon from Portland to Ashland, with a little bit making its way across eastern Oregon.

The Department of Environmental Quality reports air quality was good from Portland to Roseburg, moderate in Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, Hood River and La Grande. It was unhealthy in Enterprise and Baker City.

On the northwestern border of Crater Lake National Park, firefighters expect to have a wildfire fully contained by the end of September. Fires east of Gold Beach and east of Canyonville are both set to be fully contained Sunday.

National Weather Service forecaster Jay Stockton says an unusually strong low pressure zone developing off the coast and will send rain across western Oregon starting Friday night. Amounts will range from a couple inches in the Coast Range to less than an inch in inland valleys. There will be less than a quarter inch east of the Cascades.

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