WA: Fire evacuations ordered near The Dalles

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Smoke rises Monday morning, August 19th, from a series of wildfires outside The Dalles. By Belo Content KGW Smoke rises Monday morning, August 19th, from a series of wildfires outside The Dalles. By Belo Content KGW

THE DALLES, Ore. – Residents nearby the Blackburn Fire, part of the Government Flats Fire Complex near The Dalles, have been ordered to leave after the Wasco County Sheriff's Office issued a Level III Evacuation.

The evacuation order was effective as of 3 p.m. Monday for residents on Obrist Road, west of the intersection of Dutch Flat Road. An American Red Cross shelter for displaced people at Dry Hollow Elementary School at 1314 E. 19th St. in The Dalles. 

On Monday morning, about 100 homeowners were told to prepare for evacuation as a series of three wildfires near The Dalles continued to burn, driven by overnight winds.

Firefighters from 23 agencies were on what was being called the Government Flat Fire Complex that was started by lightning Friday and was already burning some structures Sunday evening.

Fire officials said in a prepared statement that two outbuildings had been destroyed. A KGW viewer said the structures were actually family homes.

A Level II evacuation order was put in place for 35 homes by the Wasco County Sheriff's Office Sunday evening and revised to 100 homes Monday morning, spokesman Tommy Schroeder told KGW.

A Level II evacuation means residents should prepare for an immediate departure in the event that a full, Level III, evacuation should occur. 

On Sunday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the Government Flat Complex Fire a conflagration.

The complex is made up of three fires. The 700-acre Blackburn Fire is burning within the city of The Dalles’ watershed, which has steep terrain with limited access to firefighters. The Government Flat Fire and the Wells Fire are lined, and officials said the risk of them spreading is low.

Strong winds Saturday caused the fires to spread across dry grass, and brush.

Eleven 20-person crews headed out to battle the fire early Sunday morning and at least 500 firefighters headed out Monday.

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