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Oregon fire burns over 86,000 acres as US West faces infernos

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CalFire firefighters turn away from the fire to watch for any stray embers during a firing operation to build a line to contain the Fairview fire near Hemet, California, on September 8, 2022./AFP
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Sep 13, 2022 - 12:27 AM

WASHINGTON DC (AA) – The Cedar Creek Fire in central Oregon has burned over 86,000 acres (34,800 hectares), according to data updated on Monday as the US West faces a heat wave that has contributed to multiple infernos raging in the region.

Over 1,200 firefighters are attempting to bring the Cedar Creek Fire under control after it exploded in size over the weekend amid high temperatures and strong winds. It is raging in steep and difficult-to-access terrain about an hour’s drive east of the city of Eugene.

The fire first was detected Aug. 1 following a lightning storm, and prior to the weekend, firefighters had brought it to 12% containment. But the weekend surge in activity has resulted in it now being 0% contained. Authorities now do not expect to bring the inferno under control until Nov. 1.

A Level 3 evacuation order – the highest level in Oregon – remains in effect for surrounding areas, with residents being asked to depart immediately.

The Cedar Creek Fire is one of 22 blazes burning in the northwestern state that have claimed over 303,000 acres (122,620 hectares), according to official data. The largest blaze, the Double Creek Fire, makes up over half of all areas burned. It has consumed more than 154,000 acres (62,322 hectares), and is just 15% contained.

Meanwhile, 14 wildfires continue to rage just to the north in Washington state, including the Bolt Creek Fire, which emerged on Saturday. The fire resulted in the local closure of US Highway 2, which runs west to east across the state.

About 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) have already burned, and schools in the area were closed on Monday. Only half of those asked to leave under evacuation orders have done so, according to local law enforcement.

In California, a record heat wave was partly mitigated by an unusual storm hitting southern California after making landfall in Mexico. Hurricane Kay, downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the US state, brought strong winds and flash floods to parts of southern California beginning on Friday.

Authorities are continuing to battle 10 blazes in the state’s north and east, including the Mosquito Fire, which has burned 46,587 acres (18,862 hectares) since Sept. 6. It is just 10% contained.

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