Oregon's Pole Creek Fire Continues to Grow

With wildfires scorching tens of thousands of acres in the Northwest and smoke clogging the air, more blazes flared in the past 24 hours and they were all in Oregon.

Central Oregon firefighters were swept up into a flurry of activity late Tuesday afternoon, when calls came in about three fires. They were snuffed but one lightning-caused blaze in the Metolius Bench area in Jefferson County burned more than 100 acres. Scorching timber and grass, it is actively burning and remains zero percent contained.

The Pole Creek fire southwest of Sisters continued to grow again on Tuesday, charring at least 22,000 acres. About 150 households are on alert for a possible evacuation, with residents advised that they might have to leave at a moment's notice. Officials told residents in need of assistance to leave their homes. They also advised owners to move large animals.

The fire, which flared Sept. 9 and is under investigation, has burned through timber, litter and understory. The wildfire is actively burning through the Three Sisters Wilderness area with moderate fire behavior elsewhere. It is 20 percent contained. Crews, totaling more than 1,200 firefighters and support staff, are continuing to strengthen containment lines and carry out burnouts to deepen primary lines in preparation for changing weather. Forecasters predict warm, dry weather through the end of the week.

Department of Environmental Quality monitors show hazardous breathing conditions in Sisters, unhealthy air in Bend and smoke in the Portland area. Runners, bicyclists and other exercising outdoors in the metro area should avoid overly strenuous activity and stay hydrated.

In Sisters, the American Red Cross is operating a shelter in the elementary school for people with breathing problems. The shelter, which provides filtered air, will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Monday at least.

In Washington state, the Wenatchee complex west of the city continues to grow, charring more than 35,000 acres. Ignited Sept. 9 by lightning, it is 22 percent contained. More than 50 fires are burning in Chelan County, creating hazardous breathing conditions for residents. The fire is burning 24 hours a day, unhindered by natural barriers or fire lines. Nearly 2,000 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the fires.

Copyright 2012 - The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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