Wildfires are forcing residents everywhere to evacuate their homes. After the wildfire that had been threatening the Columbia River George community of Rowena had cleared, residents could see the flames coming from the city of The Dalles, only six miles away.
Dave Wells, fire spokesman, explained that because of the fire that had been running along the river on Wednesday, 275 residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Wells added that 90 additional residents of the town of The Dalles are also on standby and are ready to leave their homes if need be.
Firefighters will be working through the night to ensure that structures are protected, and Wells said that until Wednesday, no homes had burned. Gov. John Kitzhaber wants to mobilize local fire departments from three counties to protect buildings and make sure the fire is contained.
Firefighters have been dropping water on the blaze all Wednesday. Another spokesman, Justin de Ruyter said that the fire was very challenging for the firefighters especially because of the wind that had been gusting to more than 30 mph.
The fire also had several highways closed. While Interstate 84 remained open, a significant section of the U.S. Highway 30 had to be closed.
Between Tuesday, when the fire first began, and Wednesday, the fire had already spread to approximately 200 acres of timber in the steep and rocky terrain.
Last week, the biggest Oregon wildfire burned six homes in the Siskiyou Mountains. Gov. John Kitzhaber asked Congress to invest in more forest-thinning projects so that the risk of wildfires can be reduced.
The Governor added that these wildfires point to a forest health issue. According to him, the root causes have to be addressed and this may mean that Congress see to the matter of improving the resiliency and health of U.S. forests and produce jobs while doing so.
Gov. Kitzhaber’s statements come exactly when the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that funding will be pulled from forest-thinning projects to pay for the battle against wildfires. The cost of battling these wildfires has come to a whopping $36,7 million and will keep increasing.
More than 4,000 people are fighting the fires that are currently burning across 143 square miles of Oregon timber and rangeland.
In California, people have been allowed to return to their homes on Tuesday after the second blaze was slowed enough to allow the citizens of Burney to safely re-inhabit their houses.