Level three evacuation notices, which mean “go now” have been issued to Wasco County residents between Sherars Falls to Macks Canyon along the Deschues River due to a grass fire that started Thursday afternoon.
“I want everyone out of the canyons there because, as we saw last week, the fire races onces it gets in there,” said Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill.
He was referencing the Substation Fire that started July 17 and consumed about 80,000 acres in Wasco and Sherman counties.
Magill said 25-30 campers were evacuated along the Deschutes on Thursday evening.
Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey said firefighters are standing by on the Sherman side of the Deschutes to battle any flames that get across.
He said about the only wheat fields in Sherman County left untouched by last week’s fire lie between Sherars Falls and Macks Canyon, so there is plenty of fuel if the fire makes it to the other shoreline.
“The wind is light so we hope it doesn’t jump, but we’ll be ready if it does,” said Lohrey.
The latest blaze is now being called the Long Hollow Fire since it started along a road with that name southest of Dufur.
A Type 3 Incident Management Team is now in command of suppression efforts that are being undertaken by multiple agencies.
The fire was estimated at 15,000 acres on Friday morning.
Magill said farmers report that it was started by a spark from a combine, a machine used to harvest wheat.
The grass fire was first reported around 4:30 p.m. on July 26.
Magill said three homes in the area were threatened but farmers and firefighers were able to steer flames away from those structures.
A barn burned along Center Ridge Road, said Magill.
“I am very impressed with all the farmers and ranchers who contributed to the firefighting efforts,” he said. Updates about the fire are posted on the Columbia Gorge Wildland & Fire Info page on Facebook.
That site reports that Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad has provided a fire train equipped with more than 60,000 gallons of water and cannons to run alongside the Deschutes River to put out any flames that crawl down canyons.
Two helicopters and five air tankers are also working to extinguish the blaze.
Farmers have been diverted from wheat harvest for the second time in a week to fight fire.
The Substation Fire destroyed four homes and at least 48 outbuildings. John Ruby, a 64-year-old farmer, died trying to protect his neighbor's land from the flames.