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Brown declares statewide emergency over wildfire danger

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Oregon is under a statewide emergency declaration due to wildfire danger, Gov. Kate Brown announced Sunday.

The declaration came as the Rum Creek Fire in a remote portion of southwestern Oregon grew to over 10,500 acres as of 8 a.m. on Monday. The fire is centered near Galice in Josephine County.

“With wildfire behavior increasing across the state, and with the threat of fire not likely to recede in the near future, it is imperative that we act now to prevent further loss — of life, property, business, and our natural resources,” Brown said in a Sunday statement announcing the emergency declaration.

The Rum Creek Fire accounts for nearly half of the 21,181 acres burned by the 28 active fires in Oregon, according to the State of Oregon Fires and Hotspots Dashboard.

Brown said in a statement that she issued the order due to widespread drought and other conditions in the state that could ignite wildfires.

The declaration also comes as Oregon approaches the two-year anniversary of the massive 2020 Labor Day fires that burned over 1.1 million acres, killed 11 people, and destroyed more than 3,000 structures.

According to Brown’s announcement, “The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, in coordination with the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, to utilize personnel, equipment, and facilities from other state agencies in order to respond to or mitigate the effects of the wildfire emergency. The declaration allows state agencies to temporarily suspend any rules that impair the response to wildfires, if needed, and also allows the state to request assistance from other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact if necessary. “

Brown said the National Guard would be used if other resources are depleted.

The Rum Creek Fire was at about 1,200 acres on Friday, according to state fire officials. It grew to 4,700 acres on Saturday and was reported at 8,400 acres by mid-day Sunday.

Logan Taylor, of Talent, was killed Thursday by a falling tree while battling the fire. Brown has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on Monday to honor Taylor.

One house and two mining structures have been destroyed by the Rum Creek Fire, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Firefighters have reached about 10% containment of the state’s second largest blaze, the Cedar Creek Fire west of Waldo Lake, which has burned about 7,300 acres, according to the state wildfire dashboard.

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