National Guard Set to Fight Oregon Fires

SISTERS, Ore. (AP) _ National Guard troops were ready to help firefighters Saturday in their battle against wildfires burning in a national forest and threatening a tiny mountain community.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared a state of emergency Friday allowing the troops to help firefighters.

In Wyoming, firefighters battled a wildfire in the Shoshone National Forest that exploded to 14,500 acres Friday from only 20 acres a few days earlier.

The fires in Oregon's Deschutes National Forest stood at a combined 24,290 acres; scattered buildings have been destroyed and about 1,500 campers and summer residents have been forced to leave.

``This is not going to be a quick suppression effort,'' Incident Commander Bob Anderson told about 200 people at an emergency shelter at Sisters Elementary School. ``There is too much real estate and too much fuel.''

The fire destroyed some remote buildings in the Round Lake area and along the road to the Hoodoo Ski Area but had not reached the mountain community of Camp Sherman or nearby Black Butte Ranch, a resort community that lost a few homes to a fire last summer.

``What I saw yesterday was a terrible situation,'' said Sisters District Ranger Bill Anthony. ``The only thing that could be worse is somebody getting killed.''

The causes of the fires were uncertain because the ongoing fire was preventing investigators from reaching the ignition site.

In Washington, crews were fighting a 5,000-acre wildfire in the eastern part of the state about a half-mile from the Canadian border. Canadian firefighters were protecting 61 homes threatened by the blaze. None of the homes was in immediate danger of burning, authorities said.

In Montana, tension was high Friday morning as officials prepared for what one official called an ``ugly'' forecast: more dry lightning and wind storms.

Three dozen large fires continue to burn there, and firefighting crews were stretched thin. The Defense Department said it was bringing in 560 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, to help battle the blazes, which have burned more than 400,000 acres in the state.

The last cold front that moved through the state earlier this week brought wind that quadrupled fires in size and forced the evacuation of hundreds more families. Crews were just beginning to make headway building containment lines Thursday when they learned that Friday would bring another red-flag warning.

``It seems like every time we get a break and we start getting ahead, something else happens,'' fire information officer Jim Lane said Friday.

The Wyoming fire _ in the Boulder Basin, about 25 miles southwest of Cody _ was feeding off beetle-killed spruce trees, and crews worked to keep the flames from several homes and dude ranches on the south fork of the Shoshone River. No evacuations have been ordered.

Nearby, crews got help from overnight rain and cooler weather as they tried to keep another fire from leaving Yellowstone National Park. Flames came within a half-mile of east entrance road, forcing visitors from Cody to detour 29 miles to another entrance.

In and around the Oregon resort community of Camp Sherman, between 1,200 and 1,500 residents were told to leave Thursday.

Doris Thomas, 87, was forced to leave the cabin her father built in 1932.

``I would hate to lose it,'' she said. ``It's the only place I can go where I still think I'm nine years old.''

About 2.4 million acres have been charred so far this wildfire season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.