Boxcar Fire in central Oregon grows to 23,000 acres; Graham Fire forces evacuations

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***Embargo Portland*** The Boxcar Fire moved south and east away from Maupin and the Deschutes River corridor.

Maupin, OR (KPTV) — The Boxcar Fire south of Maupin grew to 23,000 acres on Friday.

That fire is just one that crews are working to contain in the central Oregon area after lightning strikes Wednesday and Thursday led to more than three dozen separate incidents.

For most of Friday, the Boxcar Fire moved south and east away from Maupin and the Deschutes River corridor. However, around 3 p.m., firefighters said the fire jumped Bakeoven Canyon, began moving toward Maupin and threatened homes.

“It’s difficult, the terrains difficult, it’s rocky, it’s smoky,” Chief Don Colfels of Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue said.

Dozer lines were put in place to protect recreation areas along the Deschutes River. Central Oregon Fire Info reported the fire was 10 percent contained Friday night.

Campers at four campgrounds south of Maupin – Wapinita, Harpham Flat, Longbend and Devil’s Canyon – were asked to leave. The campgrounds were not officially closed by Friday evening, but people were advised not to camp there in the interest of safety.

Highway 197 from the junction with Highway 97 was closed up to Maupin.

The Graham Fire had burned just over 2,000 acres near Culver, four miles south of the Metolius River arm of Lake Billy Chinook.

The Graham Fire led to Level 3 evacuation orders – meaning go now – for the Three Rivers Subdivision. Around 100 structures were threatened, according to Central Oregon Fire Info.

“We got everything we could together. Basically all of our important things,” Roy Allister who lives in the evacuation zone said.

Roy and Shirley Allister are following day two of a level three evacuation. For people living here, that means get out.

“I mean you can’t really worry you’d be a basket case if you worried whatever will be will be,” Shirley Allister said.

The Graham Fire was burning primarily on private land protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue. It was 50 percent contained by Friday night.

Another fire reported Friday morning, the Jack Knife Fire, grew to 2,000 acres in brush and grass five miles northeast of Kent. 10 homes are threatened and the fire has reached the John Day River on the west side of the river, fire authorities said. Large pockets of fuel are within the perimeter of the fire.

Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act on Thursday, sending additional resources from the Portland area to battle the fires.

“Its something you have to expect that could happen someday but it could happen anywhere,” Multnomah County Task Force Leader Eric Lofgren said.

The Jefferson County sheriff told FOX 12, so far, two summer homes have been lost along with two trailers and a shop.

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Bill Smith

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