Wildfire destroys eight buildings on California-Oregon border

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 03, 2014 6:33 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - A wildfire burning on the border of Oregon and California has destroyed eight structures and was threatening hundreds more on Sunday, officials said, after California declared a state of emergency amid an extremely aggressive fire season.

California Governor Jerry Brown issued the emergency declaration on Saturday, saying the state's extreme drought has made fire conditions particularly dangerous.

The declaration allows various state agencies to cooperate while battling at least 14 significant fires currently burning in California, including the Oregon Gulch fire, which started in Oregon last week then spread over the border.

That blaze has charred about 32,000 acres; 23,000 in Oregon and the rest across the border in California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze was expanding rapidly amid extremely hot, dry conditions, said CalFire spokesman Dennis Mathisen.

"This is the third really dry year we've had," Mathisen said. "The fire behavior we are seeing out there is usually not behavior we see until September," he said.

The Oregon Gulch blaze, part of the larger Beaver Complex, has destroyed three homes and five outbuildings, and was threatening another 280 dwellings, fire officials said.

Evacuation notices were in effect for several communities on both sides of the border.

About two dozen fires are currently burning from California to Washington state, many triggered by lightning and then fanned by hot temperatures and strong winds.

"With the current conditions, all you need is a spark," said Mathisen. "We know what the typical fire season should look like. This year nothing's typical."

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)