More than 2,000 Oregon homes evacuated as the Cedar Creek fire quadruples in size

The Cedar Creek fire was pictured on Friday, the day officials ordered the cities of Oakridge and Westfire to evacuate.

Justin Wood / US Forest Service

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Justin Wood / US Forest Service

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The Cedar Creek fire was pictured on Friday, the day officials ordered the cities of Oakridge and Westfire to evacuate.

Justin Wood / US Forest Service

A wildfire in Oregon has quadrupled in size since late last week, threatening thousands of homes and wrapping the Interstate 5 corridor, including the Portland metropolitan area, in heavy smoke.

The Cedar Creek fire began during a lightning storm on August 1. By Sunday, it had grown to about 86,000 acres, officials said, and the fire “broke existing lines,” meaning control fell to 0%.

Officials said the fire threatened more than 2,200 homes and hundreds of commercial buildings, mostly in the nearby towns of Oakridge and Westfir, which have a combined population of about 3,500 residents. Officials ordered evacuation on Friday.

Strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions fueled the fire late last week and on Saturday, increasing its growth from nearly 18,000 acres on Wednesday to more than four times as of Sunday.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state fire emergency, allowing the state’s fire marshals to support local fire agencies.

“The Cedar Creek fire progressed rapidly toward Oregon communities this morning, and the fire’s growth potential in the coming days is troubling, necessitating additional resources to fight the fires and support the state’s response,” she said.

By Sunday, officials said the weather conditions had eased. “This gives us an opportunity to be on the defensive along our primary line of control,” incident commander trainee Adam Veale said in a video update on Saturday.

Firefighters said Sunday they had completed strategic burning operations along the northwestern flank of the fire and were working to establish protective measures along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, which is close to campgrounds and resorts, including Mt. Dotted along was a 66-mile stretch of highway to the east of the fire. Bachelor Ski Area, which is hosting a Fire Command Center. “These firefights are of high priority and are likely to take more than a week to complete,” officials said.

The rural and mountainous area affected by the Cedar Creek fire is mostly within the Willamette National Forest, a popular recreation destination with lakes and trails. The lot is currently closed to the public.

A Red Cross shelter has been established at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, about 50 miles to the northwest.

Oregon fire agencies are battling several other blazes across the state, including the Double Creek Fire in the northeastern part of the state. Utilities had shut off power to thousands of customers on Friday as a preventive measure amid windy conditions.

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