YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Nation

Oregon Wildfire Puts 270 Homes in Harm's Way

July 27, 2002|From Associated Press

THE DALLES, Ore. — A wildfire burned on bluffs overlooking this Columbia River town Friday, singeing about 6,000 acres of grass and white oak and threatening 270 homes.

The Sheldon Ridge fire spewed smoke over The Dalles and burned to within a few feet of some homes perched on the hillsides, some with dramatic views of the river and Mt. Hood.

Firefighters parked their red and yellow engines in driveways with lights flashing and prepared to fight house to house if the fire picked up. Gusty winds whistling through the gorge remained a key concern.

Anita Carothes, 38, a resident whose house was about a mile from the fire Friday afternoon, said the blaze frightened her. The south edge of the fire lay in clear view of her backyard. Jets of red flame from crowning trees and bursts of gray and brown smoke rose from a hillside.

"I was scared. I was crying," she said. "My husband assured me it would be OK."

Carothes walked to the edge of her lawn and watched a huge, dual-rotor helicopter chug through swirling smoke as it dumped a bucket of water.

Gov. John Kitzhaber met with fire commanders and toured the fire in a military helicopter Friday.

"This is a very, very serious situation for the state in terms of risk for property and life," Kitzhaber said of the fires.

"I think we're OK from the manpower standpoint, but our biggest deficit now is air power," he said.

About 125 Oregon National Guard troops were to join firefighters at the Sheldon Ridge fire today.

The Sheldon Ridge fire got away from four crews that had it 95% contained Thursday morning. It grew from 150 acres to more than 5,000 acres in a few hours.

Sixteen major fires, all started by lightning, were burning across 233,000 acres in Oregon, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. More than 10,000 firefighters battled the blazes.

Los Angeles Times Articles