Oregon withstands fire evacuations and power outages in dry winds

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Campers at an Oregon state park had to evacuate after a wildfire ignited and thousands of people in the state were left without power Saturday after the utilities have targeted cuts in an effort to reduce danger in dry and windy conditions.

Late Friday night, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office announced the evacuation order from Milo McIver State Park, located about 38.6 miles southeast of Portland. Early Saturday morning, residents of several communities west of the park were told to be ready to evacuate.

Hoping to reduce the risk of further fires, Portland General Electric initially cut power to about 30,000 customers in 12 service areas, but that number rose to more than 37,000 on Saturday. Pacific Power shut down service to more than 7,000 customers in a small Pacific Coast community, where a wildfire burned two years ago, and in pockets southeast of the state capital of Salem. The number of Pacific Power customers without service rose to 12,000 on Saturday.

The largest fire in Oregon is the Double Creek Fire which is burning in the northeast part of the state near the Idaho border. By Saturday, the fire had burned more than 230 square miles (595 square kilometers). The North West Interagency Coordination Center said the fire spread 65 square miles (168 square kilometers) overnight.

In central Oregon, the Cedar Creek Fire east of Oakridge has burned nearly 81 square miles (210 square kilometers). Authorities on Friday ordered residents to leave the larger Oakridge, Westfir and High Prairie areas immediately due to increased fire activity.

The Van Meter Fire, which started on Wednesday, is burning on Mount Stukel about 21 kilometers southeast of Klamath Falls. One house and four structures were destroyed and about 260 structures are at risk from the fire, officials said.

In Washington state, the Goat Rocks Fire, south of Mount Rainier National Park, was sparked by lightning and caused the closure of US Highway 12 and the evacuation of neighborhoods to the east of the town of Packwood. Evacuations have also been issued for several Cowlitz County communities in response to the Kalama Fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, southwest of Mount St. Helens.

A red flag warming in Washington remains in effect through Sunday evening, meaning high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds will complicate fire conditions.

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AP reporter Gillian Flaccus contributed from Portland, Oregon, and Andrew Selsky contributed from Salem, Oregon.

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