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Fire evacuations lifted, work continues

Evacuations have all been lifted in the Rowena Fire zone and residents are now able to return to their homes, but firefighters are still working in the area so spectators are asked to stay aay.

The fire is currently at between 68 and 70 percent containment, said Bob Palmer, fire chief for Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

“We’re still a little concerned about the southwest end of the fire,” Palmer said. “That’s where there is a concentration of resources to mop-up.”

Firefighters are looking at the area with infrared viewing to make sure all the hot spots are identified. The goal is to have 100 percent “hard black” at least 300 feet back from the perimeter, he said.

The fire operation is transitioning from a Type 1 team to a Type 3 team with all local resources, including Mid-Columbia, Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and Wasco County Emergency Management.

“That’s going to take effect officially about 1 p.m., but it’s already in transition,” Palmer said.

The fire experienced a flare-up Sunday afternoon across the line in the west end, but crews attacked it quickly and beefed up the fire lines.

“We’re feeling pretty comfortable with things thus far,” Palmer said. “Of course, we’ve got weather coming in today and a red flag warning in effect, so we’re asking people to be vigilant. If you are concerned about something, give us a call.”

Palmer warned that fire crews are still moving in and out of the fire zone as they work toward 100 percent arraignment, so they’re asking to leave the roads clear.

“Controlling the fire may not happen until October when the rains come,” Palmer said.

Palmer said it’s not too late to establish defensible space around homes.

“You just need to do it carefully,” he said. “It’s tinder-dry out there. We don’t want any fires started with weedeaters or lawnmowers.”

Anyone who spots any fire conditions that look out of the ordinary or concerning is asked to call the fire district at 541-296-9445.

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